Letter to Editor – William Pride 9/29/2015

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Democratic challenger cites uncounted absentees, other irregularities

If you voted in the August 4 Democratic Party’s Primary Election, there is a good chance that your vote was not counted. Let me give you my reason for stating this fact and informing you of the injustice that has been committed once again in our great county.

After the August 4 primary I decided that I needed to canvass (review the vote counting process)  to guarantee the election was held properly. I am glad my representative, the Circuit Clerk, the incumbent candidate’s (representative) and I did perform this canvassing of the boxes that were in my voter district, Supervisor District 2. 

Throughout my district, there were more than 20 absentee ballots that had been accepted but never counted. The excuse by the Chairman of the Panola County Democratic Party, was to only shrug her shoulders and say she did not know these votes existed, and the workers did not bring these to her. That response is unacceptable. This means that these voters’ candidates never received their support and their voice was not heard. 

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In almost every precinct there were discrepancies in the vote count and the number of voters who signed in to vote on the roll. Again this is unacceptable, and again the Panola County Democratic Party declined to accept responsibility. 

There was another incident in one precinct  where the ballot box had been entered during  election day, a direct violation of the law. This is important because that means someone entered a voting box without authorization leaving an opportunity for it to be tampered with.  Unacceptable, and again the Panola County Democratic Party declined to act with knowledge of this evidence.

In addition to these discrepancies and wrongful behavior, in several precincts, you had certain people going and “assisting absentee voters” and witnessing for the same voters, which is in violation of the law. It is important because the same person should not fill out a ballot for a person and then be the witness at the same time. Who is to say that, that person’s will was appropriately carried out.  What incentive would one or two people have to go and gather absentee ballots in this manner? Unacceptable again, but you guessed it, the Panola County Democratic Party by its executive committee declined to act.

Also, the Panola County Supervisors voted to purchase and use the electronic tablets that included current names and voting precincts of all Panola’s registered votes. These tablets were intended for use to make sure that voters were actually registered in the precincts in which they were voting and to insure that the person at the precinct was actually a registered voter, helping to assure proper votes were counted correctly and accurately. 

Further, after all these findings, I requested a hearing in front of the Panola County Democratic Party to give it an opportunity to right the wrongs of this election. I requested this hearing on August 24, 2015 as required by law.  At that time the Chairman of the Panola Democratic Party initially declined to give me a hearing and then sent me to her vice-president to schedule a hearing more than a week off. 

Once that date drew near, I was informed it was rescheduled because the incumbent candidate’s attorney stated that the Panola County Democratic Party failed to follow procedure and to re-schedule the hearing for September 15, 2015.  This after, it was initially scheduled for September 2, 2015, then September 10, 2015, and eventually September 15, 2015. Once again failure of the Panola County Democratic Party to act responsibly and do what this county expects of it.

When the hearing finally came, it was only a sham.  My attorney, Gerald Mumford, and I prepared for the hearing only to be told that we would not be allowed to call witnesses and put on testimony.  Mrs. Robinson stated in her letter to the editor in this newspaper, Sept. 25, that she informed my lawyer, Roy Smith, however Mr. Smith was not my lawyer, Mr. Smith is my campaign consultant, and Mrs. Robinson knew who my attorney was because he represented me at the hearing.  (In the Sept. 25 letter, The Panolian editor erroneously identified Smith as Pride’s lawyer).

She in fact told Mr. Smith, that the Party would not be calling witnesses and not that no evidence would be allowed and that I would not be allowed to call any witnesses.  
How can there be an effective hearing, without allowing evidence to be presented?  The Panola County Democratic Party took the easy way out and took the position that it did not have the jurisdiction to rule because I did not file a Court case within the time that it declined then decided it would hear my case. 

The Panola County Democratic Party should not have even entertained my opposition’s motion because he did not serve anybody a copy of this motion before the hearing. 

The Panola County Democratic Chairperson wrote in last Friday’s Panolian that she thought I would be appreciative of the Democratic Committee giving me a chance to be heard. I would have appreciated the opportunity if:

1.The Chairperson would have not been so biased toward my opponent and biased against my running. 

2. We were really given the 30 minutes we were allotted instead of the 10 minutes we were given. The incumbent’s attorney was allowed to address the committee on three different occasions while my representative was given only one. He was denied any other opportunity.

3. Our sworn witnesses would have been given the opportunity to speak as to what they saw. (Lourine Robinson never told our representative ahead of time that we would not be given that right as she said she did in her letter to the editor last Friday.) Why would we have had all our witnesses there if that were the case? She spoke of all the preachers, deacons, aldermen and women on her fine Christian committee. As a Christian myself, I would not know the truth if I was never allowed to hear it, and during this hearing Mrs. Robinson made sure they did not.
4. The vote had not been certified until all votes had been counted. I do appreciate the Panola County Democratic Party affording time to hear my contest, however it would have been nice for them also to have their ears open at the same time. 

William Pride, Jr.