When Hattiesburg’s Election Commission certifies the Mayor’s Race on Monday it poses a new hurdle for the Ware Campaign. Ware would then be forced to file a lawsuit in Circuit Court to challenge the official results of the Mayor’s Race only after discovering evidence that shows that enough ballots were erroneously counted or were not legal and could change the outcome. Prior to certification, Ware’s campaign has the opportunity to bring forward questionable ballots for examination by the commission and to be reviewed by Hattiesburg’s Municipal Election Review Board, but this window is quickly evaporating. The election Commission is set to certify the election on Monday, and a reliable source tells the Hattiesburg Patriot the vote is expected to be 4 to 1 to certify the results with President George Decoux being the dissenting vote
Election commissioners are appointed by the mayor for a four year term; so it shouldn’t be a surprise that some if not most of the commissioners are supporters of the mayor. However according to Section 21-8-31 of Mississippi Code (click to read) it is a crime for a municipal officer to attempt to influence any person’s vote for a particular candidate, and that is exactly what Commissioners Daisy Lee Wade and Dr. Christy Thornton did. Both Commissioners had Dupree signs in their yards as evidence by the photographs, and while on the clock, being paid as election commissioners.
Also of concern for the Ware Campaign challenge are the absentee ballots and their legality. This challenge will start with the 30 votes that came from the Forrest County Jail. Legal Minds with The Hattiesburg Patriot have discovered that voting absentee because you are incarcerated is not a valid reason to vote absentee according to Section 25-13-627 of Mississippi Code; which clearly states that the only 12 permitted reasons to vote absentee are as follows:
(2) I am a member of the Merchant Marine or the American Red Cross and am a citizen of Mississippi or spouse or dependent of such member.
(3) I am a disabled war veteran who is a patient in any hospital and am a citizen of Mississippi or spouse or dependent of such veteran.
(4) I am a civilian attached to and serving outside of the United States with any branch of the Armed Forces or with the Merchant Marine or American Red Cross, and am a citizen of Mississippi or spouse or dependent of such civilian.
(5) I am a citizen of Mississippi temporarily residing outside the territorial limits of the United States and the District of Columbia.
(6) I am a student, teacher or administrator at a college, university, junior or community college, high, junior high, elementary or grade school, whose studies or employment at such institution necessitates my absence from the county of my voting residence or spouse or dependent of such student, teacher or administrator who maintains a common domicile outside the county of my voting residence with such student, teacher or administrator.
(7) I will be outside the county on election day.
(8) I have a temporary or permanent physical disability.
(9) I am sixty-five (65) years of age or older.
(10) I am the parent, spouse or dependent of a person with a temporary or permanent physical disability who is hospitalized outside his county of residence or more than fifty(50) miles away from his residence, and I will be with such person on election day.
(11) I am a member of the congressional delegation, or spouse or dependent of a member of the congressional delegation.
(12) I am required to be at work on election day during the times which the polls will be open.
Furthermore Section 25-13-627 states,
The Hattiesburg Patriot has been informed by numerous sources that the mayor's wife, Johniece Dupree, requested absentee ballots from the clerks counter on behalf of numerous citizens and inmates in the jail, and she did so on numerous occasions. Mississippi Code 25-13-627 clearly states,
"Absentee ballot applications shall be furnished to a person only upon the oral or written request of the elector who seeks to vote by absentee ballot; however, the parent, child, spouse, sibling, legal guardian, those empowered with a power of attorney for that elector's affairs or agent of the elector may orally request an absentee ballot application on behalf of the elector."
The Hattiesburg Patriot alleges that Mrs. Johniece Dupree willfully violated Section 25-13-627, and that she should be charged with a misdemeanor. Furthermore any and all ballots mailed out at her request should be voided unless it meets the legal requirements of the above code. Furthermore, the Hattiesburg Patriot alleges that all absentee ballots that were received from the Forrest County Jail or any other incarceration institution be thrown out.
The Hattiesburg Patriot is a site that stands for what is right and just, regardless of race, socio economic status, etc., and feel in an election which was decided by a few votes, and where no candidate received a majority, every vote that can be examined for legality should be examined. Also, any person who violated the law to assist in obtaining illegal ballots should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.