Run-off election review

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Candidate asks judge to review run-off election

By Billy Davis
William Pride, the District 2 supervisor Democratic candidate who lost an August runoff, has filed a court document seeking a judicial review of the election.

Pride filed the Petition for Judicial Review last week in the Panola County circuit clerk’s office.

The petition asks the court to overturn the August 23 election results and order a new election or declare Pride the Democratic nominee. Supervisor Vernice Avant won the nomination over Pride with a 73-vote win.

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Pride alleges in court documents he should be declared run-off winner since Avant had declared herself a “sovereign citizen” in court filings earlier this year.  

Avant filed those papers in chancery court, disavowing her American citizenship at the same time she was qualifying for re-election, and Pride alleges that made her ineligible to seek public office.

Avant later said she was scammed into signing the document and went before Chancery Judge Percy Lynchard to address the document. The judge’s order, signed two weeks before the August primary, declares that the court was restoring any rights Avant lost due to the earlier court filing.

Pride also suggests he should be declared the winner, or the election results should be thrown out, due to allegations of “irregularities and improprieties” during the run-off election.  

Days after the election, Pride said an examination of ballot boxes showed 44 absentee ballots should have been thrown out and 19 should have been counted, a total of 63 ballots.

A letter Pride sent to the Panola County Democratic Executive Committee in September took particular aim at poll workers, and their training and behavior, at voting precincts. Among allegations in the letter were that a voter was denied the right to vote and that poll workers cooperated with Avant’s campaign.

An assembly of members of the executive committee, after reading Pride’s letter, voted unanimously to declare Avant the winner of the Democratic runoff.

Legal language in Pride’s two-page letter to the executive committee closely mirrors the allegations in his newest court filing, and the letter is cited as a court exhibit.  

The committee’s one-sentence response to Pride is also a court exhibit in his filing.

Pride’s court filing also includes affidavits from two attorneys who claim they investigated Pride’s claims and are asking the court to grant his requests. The attorneys are H.R. Garner and William Myers, both of Hernando.

Avant’s win over Pride in August also represented Pride’s narrowest loss to the incumbent, after he lost by 141 votes in a 2009 special election runoff. Pride mulled challenging those results, too, but decided to forego a challenge, citing a lengthy court fight and his plans to run for the seat again this year.

Pride submitted his court petition through attorney Steven Pittman of Hernando.