Congressman wants Hinds Co. official charged in ballot shortage - - Jackson, MS

Congressman wants Hinds Co. official charged in ballot shortage

WASHINGTON, D. C (Mississippi News Now) - A Mississippi congressman calls the actions of one Hinds County election official "deceitful and treacherous" because of the county's ballot shortage in the Nov. 4 general election.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said a letter to the Hinds County district attorney asking why no legal action had been taken against Hinds County Election Commission Chairwoman Connie Cochran for failing to order enough ballots for voters to use.

Cochran previously told WLBT she was well aware of the proper procedure, but failed to do so.

"For that I apologize," Cochran said. "It's inexcusable, to run out of ballots. [We had] an unexpected higher turnout than normal."

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann told WLBT earlier this month the statute was amended in 2011, requiring election officials to print enough ballots for 75 percent of registered voters within that county in advance of the election.

County officials say they didn't order the 75 percent of the ballots because they were trying to save taxpayers money.

"I know we're supposed to print 75 percent. We would have had 120 thousand ballots had we ordered, to the tune of $30,000," Cochran said.

In the letter to Hinds County DA Robert Shuler Smith, Thompson denounced Cochran's actions and said it denied thousands of residents their right to vote.

"Far too many individuals have fought and died for the right to vote to have someone like Ms. Cochran decide that citizens of Hinds County should not have a voice because 'it might rain,'" Thompson said in the letter. "Her actions are, at best, criminal, and absolutely, deceitful and treacherous."

Thompson is referring to a statement Cochran allegedly said to a local media outlet, indicating that the number of ballots would have been more than adequate "if it had rained."

In the letter, he's urging DA Smith and others to pursue criminal charges against Cochran.

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