By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – It’s election day, yet it remains unclear whether Wayne Chrestman is a viable candidate for Lee County election commissioner.
Chrestman’s name appears on the District 2 ballot even though the county’s new district lines, approved two months after Chrestman had qualified for the race, place him in District 3.
The candidate didn’t find out about the new lines until Thursday, when he picked up an absentee ballot to cast his vote.
Since then, he has sought answers from election officials about how to remedy the situation. As of Monday afternoon, no one could offer a solution. That leaves not only Chrestman in the dark, but voters, too.
They can write Chrestman’s name on the District 3 ballot, but it won’t count, said Lee County Circuit Clerk Joyce Loftin. They also can vote for him on the District 2 ballot, but it’s unlikely he’ll be able to serve.
Loftin said she feels bad for Chrestman but that it’s not her responsibility to resolve the issue. It was Chrestman’s responsibility, she said, to track the redistricting process and qualify for the correct race.
Although the U.S. Department of Justice didn’t approve the new district map until mid-August, the county board of supervisors had issued the proposed map prior to the June 4 qualifying deadline.
Current 1st District Commissioner William S. Pickens also lost his turf through redistricting, but he had followed the mapping process and anticipated the change before the qualifying deadline, Loftin said. He registered in District 5 this spring.