Problems continue with Hinds ballot count - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Problems continue with Hinds ballot count

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Democratic ballot count for Hinds County has gone from tedious to downright tense.

"We have no way of knowing, ensuring the integrity of these ballots if we don't know where they came from," said one ballot counter.

At one point Saturday morning, Edward Hightower, a member of the resolution committee, bowed out. "Ladies and gentlemen, I resign, I refuse to do anymore with this stuff, I quit, I'm out of it," he announced.

Later, he cooled down and got back to work.

Several Democratic races are on the line. Supervisor George Smith was there, hoping to learn if he really lost his re-election bid to Kenneth Stokes.

Last Tuesday, Tyrone Lewis came out ahead of incumbent sheriff Malcolm McMillin. The gap was wide enough to avoid a runoff. But could the ballots in question close the gap?

At one point Saturday, Democratic Executive Committee Chairman Claude McInnis was asked if all the ballots had been finally been accounted for. He said yes.

But as the hours ticked on, and boxes were carried in and out of an unorganized vault in the basement of the court house, that remained unclear.

McInnis took a pile of unsealed ballots stamped "rejected", put them in a manilla envelope and marked the envelope to separate it from other other ballots.

But there's conflict over whether open ballots should be rejected. "Once they're opened, they've got to accept them," GOP Committee Chairman Pete Perry told us.

In addition, bags of uncounted ballots sit unsealed and vulnerable in the hallways.

Should the cumbersome process even continue?

Aaron Banks is Lewis' campaign manager. "The McMillin camp can't accept that they have the defeat. Yesterday they wanted to count votes, every vote should count. Today they don't want to count votes. I think they are creating the conspiracy," he told us.

Andrew McMillin is the sitting sheriff's son. "It wouldn't surprise me one bit if he said there's a conspiracy," he says. "I would say there are things that are suspect and warrant looking into a little more."

As it stands, Lewis has 51.2 percent of the vote to McMillin's 44.6 percent. 

Copyright 2011 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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