An unsuccessful candidate for the state Legislature wants to file an election challenge over the Hinds County ballot shortage issues, but she’s worried she won’t have the necessary money to fund the litigation.
Sharon Moman, the Democratic nominee for House District 56, lost her bid for the legislative seat that covers portions of Hinds and Madison counties to a Republican candidate.
She told Mississippi Today that she heard from countless Hinds County voters who tried to vote for her on Election Day, but they simply decided to leave their polling precinct after poll workers told them they had no ballots.
“The ripple effect with a lack of ballots just continued all day long,” Moman said.
Moman received roughly 2,564 votes or 33% of the total vote. Her Republican opponent, Clay Mansell, received 5,043 votes, or roughly 66% of the total vote. Mansell declined to comment on a potential election challenge.
The House district is outgoing House Speaker Philip Gunn’s seat and contains a Black voting age population of 27%, according to the Joint Legislative Committee on Reapportionment and Redistricting.
In Mississippi, Black voters are more likely to support Democratic candidates, while white voters are more likely to vote for Republican candidates, making it extremely difficult for Moman to win the House district.
But the Jackson suburban area contains a high concentration of college-educated voters, who, nationally, have been more likely to vote for Democratic candidates in recent years.
“I’m disappointed,” Moman said. “I want to file a challenge because that 33% number I got was just disappointing to see. People are going to incorrectly think it’s not a winnable district for a Democrat or for a woman.”
Numerous precincts in Hinds County ran out of ballots on Election Day, which left some voters waiting in line for hours and caused others to give up and go home. Several voters submitted sworn affidavits to state courts expressing frustration over the fiasco.
The ballot shortages spurred legal action from multiple organizations before the normal poll closing time at 7 p.m., and a chancery court judge ordered all Hinds County precincts to stay open until 8 p.m. to allow more people to vote.
State law allows candidates to file an election challenge over the general election by Monday, Nov. 27.
In an election challenge, the chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court appoints a special judge to provide over the litigation. The special judge would make an initial determination if a candidate should receive any type of relief, but the decision would be appealable to the state Supreme Court.
A candidate would likely have to pay an attorney to spend resources filing briefs, researching case law, paying court fees and securing potential witnesses to testify — funds Mansell says she does not have.
The current composition of Supreme Court justices has consistently ruled in recent years that if candidates do not follow the statutory timeline for filing election challenges, their claims cannot be substantively considered.
If Moman does not file such a challenge by Monday, then Mansell will be the new state lawmaker for the district.
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