DuPree Wins by 37 Votes in Hattiesburg Mayoral Race

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) — Unofficial votes show Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree winning re-election by 37 votes.

After affidavit ballots were counted Thursday, Dupree had 4,775 votes and Dave Ware had 4,738, according to the Hattiesburg American.

DuPree is a Democrat and Ware is a city council member who ran for mayor as an Independent. Three other independents also ran for mayor in Tuesday's election.

It wasn't immediately clear if Ware would ask for a recount.

There have been some problems reported. Election officials were alarmed Thursday to find that ballots were left overnight in an open vault inside an unlocked City Hall.

Officials determined the seal on the ballot box did not appear to be tampered with.

The affidavit breakdown was 25 for DuPree and 21 for Ware.

There also was a dispute over the affidavit ballot of Bridgett Cooley, a Hattiesburg resident.

Cooley and her husband moved to Hattiesburg from Petal before the 2012 presidential election. Cooley said she and her husband voted by affidavit ballot in 2012, which should have moved their registration into Hattiesburg.

On election day Tuesday, Cooley said her name was not on the poll book at her voting precinct. So, she cast her ballot via affidavit, knowing she was a registered voter.

Cooley's ballot was one of 115 affidavit ballots being reviewed by the Hattiesburg Election Commission. After hearing news reports that the affidavit ballots were being reviewed, Cooley took it upon herself to ensure her ballot was counted.

Cooley's ballot had been among 55 rejected by the commission. She contacted the Forrest County Circuit Clerk's office and the Hattiesburg City Clerk to ensure they knew she was a registered, qualified elector.

And just before noon, City Clerk Eddie Myers accepted Cooley's ballot and put it with the 39 accepted affidavit ballots.

Cooley said she only wanted to make sure her vote was counted.

"If I had not called and checked on this, my vote would not have counted, despite the fact I'm a registered voter and someone else dropped the ball making sure my registration is correct," Cooley said.

DuPree has served three terms as mayor. He was the 2011 Democratic nominee for governor.

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