Election inquiry should be quick, thorough

 Free and honest elections are a cornerstone of a democracy. Any hint of a problem is cause for concern.

So we are concerned about allegations of irregularities with absentee ballots in the May 5 Democratic primary, which was hotly contested in some races. The contests for New Albany Mayor, Alderman Ward 3 and Alderman Ward 4 will be decided in a runoff election next Tuesday.

“There are irregularities which indicate that election fraud may have occurred by certain individuals involving absentee ballots in all four wards of the city of New Albany,” City Attorney Bobby Carter announced at the courthouse before absentee ballots were counted that Tuesday night.

Carter said that both the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office and the Attorney General’s office would be conducting an investigation, which might lead to the arrest and prosecution of one or more people.

Carter said that 53 absentee ballots were set aside “and reserved in a separate ballot box for review by the Secretary of State and Attorney General’s offices.”

Those ballots were not counted and instead will remain sealed until or judge or prosecutor unseals the ballot box, he said.

Carter said that tips from one or more individuals led to the investigation. He also said that city Clerk Anne Neal noticed that many of the absentee ballots were written in the same handwriting.

So far neither the state Secretary of State nor the Attorney General has made any comment about the situation.

We think most citizens of New Albany welcome an investigation by the state to make certain that our elections are both error and fraud free. We hope that any inquiry can be concluded in a timely manner so no cloud hangs over the results.