A Mississippi judge ordered a new runoff election for an Aberdeen election following over three-quarters of absentee ballots being cast in the June Democratic runoff election found to be invalid. One notary involved in the failed election was taken into custody.
Mississippi Judge's New Election Order
In a 64-page order, Judge Jeff Weill stated there is evidence of fraud and criminal activity in how absentee ballots were counted, overseen, and actions from individuals at polling places during the runoff election that took place in Aberdeen, Mississippi. A new runoff election for the Ward 1 Alderman seat was deemed necessary.
Among the 84 mail-in absentee ballots casted in the June runoff election, 66 ballots, or 78 percent, were invalid and should never have been included. The winner announced in that election won by only 37 votes.
The judge also issued a bench warrant for notary Dallas Jones. Jones, who notarized the absentee ballots, has admitted in court to contravening notary duties. Jones testified that in June, she was called to an alderwoman's house to correct her father's absentee ballot documents, reported Just the News.
Nicholas Holliday was announced the winner by a 37 vote margin. As a result, Robert Devaull challenged the outcome in court. The tally was 177 votes for Holliday and 140 votes for Devaull. The runoff election for Aberdeen's Ward 1 alderman took place on June 16, 2020.
Holliday winning the seat was due to no independents or Republicans filing to run in the general election on July 6. Devaull alleged numerous irregularities in the election, including that absentee ballots were not appropriately accepted or rejected, reported Politifact.
Court documents indicate the election was fraught with substantial irregularities regarding the rejection and acceptance of absentee ballots. The court made a conclusion that errors were made in rejecting and accepting challenged ballots.
According to Weill, "The court is of the opinion there is probable cause that several individuals involved in the disturbances during election day at the polling precinct 'willfully and corruptly violated' one or more of the above criminal statutes." The court filings indicated, "The court will leave to the appropriate authorities to determine whether the actions of Maurice Howard, Henry Randle and S. Nicholas Holliday amounted to prosecutable crimes," reported The Epoch Times.
The judge ruled that in the election, 66 ballots have been overseen erroneously. The winner leading by merely 37 votes is an election in which these erroneously accepted or rejected ballots could overturn the election results. Since no individual knows who those 66 ballots were voted for, it is reportedly apparent that the will of the voters is impossible to ascertain. He added that, therefore, there could be no confidence in the integrity of the vote's outcome.
Jones testified that she notarized an estimated "30 something ballots." Weill also found that 83 regular ballots were counted without being initialed by election workers.
Also, according to Judge Weill, there was clear proof of voter intimidation and harassment at the polling place on the day of casting ballots. State law indicates supporters and candidates should stay at least 150 feet away from the polling place.
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