Leflore County Supervisor Wayne Self is challenging his narrow defeat, alleging numerous irregularities in the Nov. 5 general election, especially in the handling of absentee ballots.

The petition, filed Monday in Leflore County Circuit Court, asks for the court to determine “the person having the greatest number of legal votes” and, if that is not possible, to order a new election between Self and his Democratic challenger, Eric Mitchell.

Self, who ran as an independent, has served on the Board of Supervisors for nearly 20 years. He is its president.

Mitchell was certified the winner of the District 4 race by the Leflore County Election Commission on Nov. 15. The official total showed Mitchell winning by 16 votes, 780 to 764.

Neither Self nor Mitchell could be immediately reached for comment about the election challenge.

Last week, Self’s attorney, Margarette Meeks of Jackson, examined the contents of the ballot boxes from District 4’s four precincts.

According to the 17-page lawsuit she filed on Self’s behalf, Meeks found at least two dozen cases in which absentee votes were accepted that she said should have been rejected for failing to follow the legally mandated procedures in their casting and handling. Meeks found another 22 absentee ballots that she believes may have been hand-delivered, rather than mailed, which would make them invalid as well.

In addition, the lawsuit said, election officials failed to properly secure the ballot boxes and their contents or to properly account for all the ballots cast.

For example, when Meeks conducted her examination of the ballot boxes on Friday, there were 50 accepted absentee ballots in the Southwest Greenwood box but only a handful of applications for those ballots.

In the Rising Sun precinct, according to the petition, the election officials’ recap indicated 31 absentee ballots had been counted, but the receipt books showed only eight.

The lawsuit said that “the numerous irregularities, fraud and willful violations of the Mississippi Election laws make it impossible to ascertain that the certified results reflect the number of votes cast.”

It also noted one staffing oddity by the Election Commission. At the South Itta Bena precinct, the poll manager and bailiff, Sametria Perkins, had to vote by affidavit ballot because her name did not appear on the pollbook, according to the lawsuit. Meeks said it “was not proper” to have Perkins in charge of resolving potential Election Day problems in that precinct when it was uncertain whether she was qualified to vote there.

The next step in the case would be for the Supreme Court to assign a special judge to preside over a jury trial of the election challenge.

“We look forward to making our argument in court,” Meeks said.

Contact Tim Kalich at 581-7243 or tkalich@gwcommonwealth.com.

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