A difference of opinion exists today over whether Republicans can vote in the Oct. 28 Special Democratic Election for Chancery Clerk of Panola County.
But the Panola County Democratic Party co-chair, David Walker, says it’s still his opinion that only Democrats may vote in the election.
The contest is between David Chandler and Jim Pitcock and, Walker said, "it is a continuation of the Democratic primary process."
The Democratic Executive Committee ordered a second runoff be held after a two-day hearing that resulted when Chandler filed a contest.
In the primary, Pitcock defeated Chandler by 10 votes and, after the committee disallowed some votes, Pitcock was ahead by three votes when the committee opted for the new election.
Pitcock did not challenge that decision.
Both men are seeking the position being vacated by retiring Chancery Court Clerk Sally Fisher.
Absent another election challenge, the winner will become the clerk. There is no Republican or Independent opposition on the Nov. 4 general election ballot.
Monday morning, Pitcock’s attorney, Richard T. "Flip" Phillips, brought a letter to the editor (see Page 5) to The Panolian in which he takes issue with Walker’s position.
Phillips is of the opinion that anyone may vote in the Oct. 28 election as long as he or she was not one of the approximately 400 people who cast ballots in the Aug. 5 Republican primary.
"I agree with Mr. Phillips half way," Walker said, with regard to Republicans who voted in the Republican primary.
But Walker doesn’t agree with Phillips that a Republican – even if he or she did not vote in the Aug. 5 primary – can vote in the Oct. 28 election.
"If a person maintains he or she is a Republican and didn’t vote [in the Aug. 5 primary] they still shouldn’t vote Oct. 28," Walker said. "This is for Democrats."
Walker acknowledged that Mississippi has no party registration and that many people are "ticket splitters" when it comes to general elections.
"This is not a general election," Walker said. "It’s a special Democratic election.
"Why would you want to be a Republican and cross over to vote in a Democratic election?" Walker asked.
The party co-chair said election officials will "take at face value" the word of people voting that they are a Democrat.
Walker said previously if the outcome of the Oct. 28 race is challenged Republican voter sign-in books and voters may be subpoenaed.
Walker doubts a judge would compel a witness to testify under oath as to how he or she voted but he did not rule out the possibility.