Glitch forces new vote in New Albany

NEW ALBANY – Voters in New Albany’s Ward 3 will try again next week to elect an alderman.
During Tuesday’s Democratic primary, at least one voter reported having been assigned to the wrong ward, and further research showed that more than 100 residents of Ward 2 were erroneously assigned to Ward 3.
A close vote
Of those, only 12 voted in the Ward 3 election, said City Clerk Anne Neal. But those might have decided the outcome because only two votes separated challengers Chris Buford and Larry Dykes for the second spot in a runoff with incumbent Alderman Tommie Beasley.
The mixup, which is being blamed on a software glitch, is not related to the ongoing investigation into possible voter fraud involving 53 absentee ballots.
The city’s Democratic Executive Committee voted unanimously Friday to re-stage the Ward 3 election, which will be Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Union County Courthouse.
“Unfortunately, things like this sometimes happen, and we just have to deal with them and move forward,” said executive committee member Henry Knox.
City Attorney Bobby Carter consulted with both the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees elections, and the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, before the committee reached its decision, Knox added.
The Union County Election Commission administers voting machines and software for the Statewide Election Management Systems that the city uses.
“My understanding is that you put in the description of the ward line, and whenever you put somebody’s address in there, it puts it into the correct ward,” Neal said. “They don’t know how it happened; it just was a glitch.”
Mike Beam, secretary for the Union County Election Commission, said the county had used the SEMS software in the 2007 state elections but that this was its first use for New Albany municipal elections.
More to come
Beasley missed drawing a clear majority of votes in his race by fewer than 10 votes, so he’ll be campaigning again with the possibility of facing three elections – the original primary, the re-staged primary and the May 19 runoff – in just 15 days.
“With such short notice,” he said, “it’ll impact me on getting out to campaign.”
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at (622) 816-1282 or errol.castens@djournal.com.

Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal