Judge hears first phase of Corinth election case

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

CORINTH – Both sides in the challenge to last year’s Corinth’s Ward 4 election will conduct some fact-finding before the next step in the process takes place.
Judge Vernon Cotten of Leake County, who is hearing the case, on Friday ordered that ballot boxes from the Sept. 28 city of Corinth Democratic primary runoff election be unsealed so that absentee ballots of 15 challenged voters can be examined.
The process will not violate the voters’ secrecy in the person they voted for, the judge said.
Corinth attorney Danny Lowrey, who represents former Alderman Steve Hill, contends that these individuals were not “qualified electors” in Ward 4 at the time they voted and that those ballots should be disqualified.
On behalf of J.C. “Honeyboy” Hill, who won the primary runoff for the Ward 4 alderman seat by two votes, attorney Richard Bowen of Iuka said that even if the named individuals did not have “residence” but instead had “domicile” in the ward, their ballots were valid.
Cotten said an examination of the absentee ballot envelopes to see if, in fact, all of them were legally cast might be a determining factor in whether the case needs to proceed further.
If at least two of the ballots were found to be improperly executed – not correctly signed on the envelope or without the required witness signature, or both – the results of the election could be invalid.
Parties will work with the city clerk’s office to identify a date to reopen those ballot boxes, likely next week, Bowen said.
Determining the will of the voters in this election is the central objective of the court, Cotten said, and he would like to do so without expending more of the community’s resources than necessary.
Contact Lena Mitchell at (662) 287-9822 or lena.mitchell@journalinc.com.