UPDATED 8/7/11; See below and comments
After more than two days of resolving conflicts over the Tuesday's elections, election officials and campaign supporters will head back to the Hinds County Courthouse at 9 a.m. Saturday to continue counting ballots and resolving voting issues.
Unofficial results show Tyrone Lewis leading the Hinds County Sheriff's race with 18,173 votes or 51.2 percent and Malcolm McMillin with 15,843 votes or 44.6 percent.
Hinds County Democratic Party Executive Committee Chairman Claude McInnis could not say how many votes still need to be counted.
The courthouse was full of chaos today as campaign supporters, attorneys and elected officials argued at every turn of the process.
The Democratic Executive Committee appointed a three-member Resolution Committee to verify and count absentee ballots. When Election Commissioner Connie Cochran noticed that the ballots had been placed into one pile without any indication of what precinct they were from, she said she could not enter them for the certification process. The Democratic Executive Committee removed the ballots from envelopes citing the precinct and voter information. Placing them into one stack makes it nearly impossible to sort through them again and match them with the correct precinct.
McInnis told Cochran she had given him instructions to place the ballots in one pile.
"I did not say that. Do not lie to me, Claude," Cochran replied.
McInnis suggested that Cochran could find a way to enter the votes without having the correct precinct.
"She can do a lot of different things. It's a damn computer. She is a computer expert," McInnis said as he appeared to lose his patience.
Cochran said she has never done anything like that in 20 years. The data she enters into the county's database send a report to the secretary of state's office and certifies the votes for the Democratic Executive Committee to sign off on.
"I really can't describe what has happened," Cochran said. "This (computer system) is set up to report voter returns by precinct. As long as we have been counting ballots, we have been counting by precinct. "
At the end of the day Friday, the Democratic Executive Committee still had not determined how the votes would be entered into the system.
The Executive Committee also discovered 222 additional votes today that poll workers had not tallied correctly from Precinct 58 at Pearl Street A.M.E. Church at Robinson Road. The precinct reported that 496 voters had signed in to vote, but the machine had only recorded 155 votes.
Hinds County Election Commissioner Marilyn Avery opened the voting machines and re-tallied the votes this afternoon. She discovered that poll workers had not accounted for all three of the precinct's machines when they electronically tallied the votes. The new tally displayed a total of 377 votes.
Andrew McMillin, son of Sheriff Malcolm McMillin, said he believes more precincts are not showing accurate numbers.
Campaign supporters also questioned Hinds County Circuit Clerk Barbara Dunn this afternoon about why a box of absentee ballots had been left out of the election. The ballots had arrived to the Circuit Clerk's office by the Aug. 1, 5 p.m. deadline.
"We have kept them in my office for Claude to come get them, and he didn't come get them," Dunn said.
On Saturday afternoon the Democratic Executive Committee finished counting ballots and McInnis said his committee has submitted the remaining ballots to Cochran who will enter them into the computer system as part of the certification process. Officials will head back to the courthouse Monday to finish the certification process. As of Saturday, the commission did not have any new numbers. Andrew McMillin said he would wait to bring up any more voting challenges until after certification.
Just found out officials are heading back to the courthouse today at 2 p.m. Not sure why. Will update if anything happens.
- Lacey McLaughlin
education, education, education..... it's extremely vital that you get competent people to work the polls, and then make sure they take their training course seriously. Also, it sounds like McInnis could use a little re-training....