New Election Recommended in District 29 - - Jackson, MS

Jackson 01/19/04

New Election Recommended in District 29

By David Kenney

The final outcome of the Hinds County District 29 race could soon be back in the hands of voters. Monday afternoon, a Senate committee recommended sending voters back to the polls to pick a candidate to fill that seat. It's a decision that still has to be voted on by the full Senate. 

"We were unable to determine the will of the voters," said Sen. Terry Burton of the election. Burton is chairman of the ad-hoc committee. 

On election day, voting machines broke down at Precinct 94 and paper ballots weren't signed by election workers -- but they were still counted under a recommendation by the attorney general. Dewayne Thomas, a Democrat, was certified the winner. Thomas opposes a revote. 

"I don't think they have the authority to open a new election," Thomas said. "They can only seat me or Mr. White or declare the seat void."

Thomas says only the governor has the right to declare a revote.

"There was an attorney general opinion that they tore up and threw out today that said they should be counted," Thomas said. "The legislature has no authority to do that."

"This doesn't have to do with Republican or Democrat," said Republican candidate Richard White, the incumbent. "This has to do with upholding the law of Mississippi, and that's what I'm about." 

White says lawmakers are only following constitutional law.  

"The constitution directs us towards the legislature for the answer," White said. "Mike Moore made the wrong opinion. That opinion was presented to Hinds County, and that's not how we do it here in Mississippi."  

The recommendation for a re-vote will be voted on by the full senate, which they expect will happen in the next few days.  The senate committee has set a tenative special election date in District 29 for Tuesday, Feburary 10.

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