District 71 Re-Vote on for Tuesday | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

District 71 Re-Vote on for Tuesday

An attorney for Adrienne Wooten, the candidate who won the House District 71 race by about 200 votes, said her Republican opponent John Reeves had yet to prove his case for a re-vote, even as Wooten's supporters pressed to spread awareness about the Dec. 18 re-vote. "No voters came forward saying they had been deprived of the right to vote. … There are irregularities in every election, some confusion in every election. If we base the decision of a revote on some confusion on the voters' part then we're going to be re-voting in every election," Wooten's attorney Carlton Reeves told the Jackson Free Press.

John Reeves (no relation) and Wooten have been knocking heads since the election, with Reeves calling for a revote because of voter irregularities in four precincts. Reeves' district is split, with some precincts offering two different ballots featuring different politician's names. Reeves complained that poll workers directed some voters to ballots that did not contain him as a voting option. The Republican, who has held the seat since 1984, also said Precinct 92 used the wrong voter roll and turned some voters away when their names didn't appear.

The Hinds County Election Committee voted 5-to-1 to hold a revote after taking Reeves' argument under consideration, but Wooten filed a motion with Hinds County Circuit Court, asking the court to press the committee to certify her as the winner in the November race.

Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd granted a writ of mandamus last week to Wooten and compelled the Hinds County Election Commission to cancel the re-vote, certify the results of the Nov. 6 election and acknowledge Wooten as the winner.

Reeves responded by filing an emergency petition in Mississippi Supreme Court, asking it to overrule Kidd's decision.

Supreme Court Presiding Justice Oliver Diaz granted Reeves' emergency petition and reversed Kidd's decision.

"After due consideration the Court finds that Reeves' emergency petition should be granted. The Court further finds that the Writ of Mandamus and the Writ of prohibition granted by the circuit court should be vacated and the re-vote should be allowed to proceed as directed by the Hinds County Election Commission," Diaz wrote in his decision, adding that the court would "issue an opinion in due course."

The court also denied oral arguments from both sides on the issue.

The re-vote could potentially impact the race for House Speaker if the margins between incumbent Speaker Billy McCoy and challenger Jeff Smith remain narrow.

Smith confirmed 59 commitments in his race for speaker last month, with Republicans and Republican-minded Democrats flocking behind him. McCoy, meanwhile, released a commitment of 64 votes from moderate to left-leaning Democrats in the Democratically controlled House. As the weeks wear on, both Democrats will likely approach individual House members with promises of favors for switching sides. In that event, a lone vote out of District 71 could be the deciding factor.

Precincts participating in the re-vote and their respective polling locations follow: Precinct 72a: Key Elementary, Precinct 92b: Oak Forest Elementary, Precinct 93b: Victory AME Zion Church, and Precinct 96a: Lakeshore Baptist Church. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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