Hinds Election Feud Heats Up | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Hinds Election Feud Heats Up


Hinds County District 3 Supervisor Peggy Calhoun's motion to deny Milwaukee Electric forgiveness for taxes because of errors on the company's behalf passed today.

A spat between Hinds County Election Commissioners spilled over into a county Board of Supervisors meeting today, with suggestions of voting machine tampering and possibly compromised elections. With elections scheduled for tomorrow, District 2 Election Commissioner Bobbie Graves told the board that a conflict between her and the commission's chief machine technician made it impossible for her to be certain that the elections would proceed fairly.

Supervisors expressed their concern and directed Board Attorney Crystal Martin to investigate the issue. District 4 Commissioner Connie Cochran rejected Graves' assertions, suggesting that the board was adding fuel to a racially motivated dispute.

Graves alleged that technician Pat Wilson refused to complete "logic and accuracy" testing on voting machines in her presence and walked out of the commission's warehouse on two occasions Oct 19. Graves first made the allegations in a meeting of the Election Commission on Wednesday. This morning, she asked supervisors to fire Wilson for insubordination.

"That's very demeaning to me, as an elected official," Graves said. "He doesn't have to like me, but he should respect me."

Graves also accused District 1 Commissioner Marilyn Avery of grabbing her and calling her "the b-word," an allegation Avery reportedly admitted at Wednesday's meeting.

Asked by Supervisor George Smith whether she thought the conflict with Wilson and Avery would affect Tuesday's elections Graves replied that she believed the elections would be unimpaired but that she couldn't be sure.

"I would not sign it in blood," Graves said.

Wilson and chairwoman Lelia Rhodes have the only two keys to the storage room that holds the county's voting machines, and Graves has not had access to her district's machines since the county tested them two weeks ago.

"I can't say whether something was done (to the machines) or not," Graves said. "There is the possibility."

Cochran appeared in the boardroom near the end of Graves' comments to the board. She dismissed Graves' account and said that Wilson had refused to work with Graves present because Graves had been trying to take over testing of the machines. Election commissioners are responsible for administering the elections and maintaining voter rolls, not machine maintenance, Cochran said. Moreover, she argued, the restriction on access to voting machines was a security measure.

"It's time for (Graves) to pull up her big-girl britches and just deal with it," Cochran said.

Supervisor Peggy Calhoun suggested that the board ask the U.S. Department of Justice for assistance in monitoring tomorrow's elections to ensure fairness.

"The general public is very concerned about the integrity of the elections," she said.

"The general public is not," Cochran retorted. "The black community is, and that's what this has been made into. This has been made into a racial situation, which it is not. We are a minority over there. I am a white person, one of two, with three blacks. Let's just call a spade a spade. They've been all over the radio, spouting all this mess. We have an election to do tomorrow. Call it what you want, but that is not what it is."

Cochran and Avery, both white, are Republicans, while Rhodes, Graves and District 3 Commissioner Jermal Clark, all black, are Democrats.

Cochran insisted that the elections would be "honest and fair" and proceed as they always have.

As Calhoun reiterated her desire to contact DOJ, Cochran walked out of the meeting, telling Graves, "I hope you're proud of yourself, woman."

Calhoun's motion to involve the DOJ died for lack of a second, with other supervisors telling Calhoun that they shared her concern but thought the conflict didn't yet merit outside involvement. The board instructed Martin to interview all parties in the dispute and report back.

Previous Comments


Cochran's retort to Mrs. Graves as she left the board room is typical of the disrespect and disdain which she shows to Democrats on a regular basis "down in the basement". Everyone knows that Rhodes is no practicing democrat or African American. Because of her own fear of the displeasure of Cochran and Avery, she rolls over for them and does as they say. As Chair, she simply allows them to set policy and consistently gives them her vote. There is no such thing as a majority of African Americans or Democrats in that office as long as Cochran and Avery control the information and control Rhodes. How can restricting an election commissioner's access to the machines while allowing full access to only one commissioner and the people of her choice be considered a security measure? What it really is is control of power and knowledge.


The really sad thing about this "spat" is that it mirrors the national problems with electronic voting. FACT: The two major electronic machine manufacturers in the country are Diebold and E&S. FACT: The source codes utilized by these firms are considered "propietary" and therefore no one knows how the software operates or the relative security of the software. Even the casino's have to give up their slot machine source codes to the gaming commissions. FACT: The CEO's of each respective electronic voting machine manufacturer are brothers. FACT: Both brothers serve on the Republican National Committee (RNC). FACT One brother guaranteed, in a public RNC speech, that G.W.Bush would win re-election because he would carry Ohio. This was two years before the re=election campaign started. FACT: On election day in Ohio, the electronic voting machines (manufactured by the above mentioned brothers's respective firms) located in minority and heavily Democratic precints experienced unexplainable mechanical, software, delivery, power and accuracy problems. Result? Votes went uncounted, voters were turned away and Bush won Ohio, the last "critical" state to report its' results. Kinda makes you go HHHhhhhmmm? QUERY: Is the constant corporate controlled media drumbeat about a major sea change from Dems to Repubs heralding the preordained? QUERY: Why aren't Republican candidates in Arizona (or across the nation for that matter), refusing to talk to the media and refusing to debate their Democratic opponents, and why are they so smug abouty it? http://www.blogforarizona.com/blog/2010/09/republicans-hiding-in-the-bunker-with-brewer.html Do they know something we don't know?..similiar to that "spat" in Florida, and the heretofor unpublicized purging of the voter rolls in only the heavily minority and Democratic leaning precints in Floride during the first Bush election? Remember the media exit poll consortium reported a win in Florida for Gore? Jack Welch, CEO of GE/NBC told his newsroom to report Bush as the winner. Welch knew something we didn't know. HHHhhhmmm? Also see www.blackboxvoting.org Getting back to Hinds County, it looks like the court and US Justsice Department imposed 8% margin of minority voters in Benny Thompson district, and the margin he usually wins by, has now been reduced to a 1% margin, according to a recent Republican poll. HHhhmm? I know .. too much information.


Is the constant corporate controlled media drumbeat about a major sea change from Dems to Repubs heralding the preordained? This is something I've even thought about in the past few weeks. WHY is EVERY. SINGLE. newstation (even CNN) spouting that Repubs will "win soundly" in this election? I mean, I "get" their assumptions...but, um, that is what they ARE (hopefully!)...ASSUMPTIONS. They are just reporting it like its already happened. Like its just a done deal. Even not so "mainstream" media (media that is clearly biased to one side) is reporting that Repubs will win when they are usually a fairly liberal news source. It is just strange to me. I don't get it. And, I think its irresponsible as their reporting influences the voting. People think its a "lost cause" and then they don't vote because they think it doesn't matter. IT DOES MATTER. And that is the thing that is upsetting me the most. Last week, last month, whenever, when all this was being reported, not a single person had yet to cast a vote. And, we all know the reliability of polls. :) So, how can the entire national mainstream media already be telling me who has won? (And, if you have not seen the documentary "Hacking Democracy" which addresses these very issues, please do.) Also, if you are a Democrat, stay off Facebook today. The medication costs involved in getting on there and still remaining calm after reading certain status updates could seriously effect the national debt.

Lori G

If you want reasonable discussion as to whether or not the "Republican drumbeat" is pre-ordained, then http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/ (which forwards to their New York Times blog now) is a good place to start. According to their metrics, we're looking at a GOP House with a 30 seat advantage; and a Democratic Senate (plus antics afterward, because the specter of Lieberman will be raised if the Senate is close to tied.) What'll be most interesting about the results are these -- (a.) two years after 2008, where the 538 model of weighing polls was eerily accurate, how much of a factor is the under-polling of people who only have cell phones (and not home phones) and (b.) are likely voter assumptions skewing results in favor of the GOP. The reason that's interesting is that a 2-3 point swing in the vote across the board would make a huge difference because so many Congressional races are so tight. According to 538, there's a 17% change that the Democrats hold onto at least half of the House and a 94% chance that they hold onto at least half of the Senate (again, counting Lieberman as a D.)

Todd Stauffer

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