State GOP to take up District 56 issue today

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 12, 2003

[08/12/03] A week after primary elections, residents in part of north Warren County may be a step closer today toward finding out who will be their Republican nominee for District 56 representative.

All counties in the District 56 race between Jep Barbour of Yazoo City and Philip Gunn of Clinton reportedly have their voting numbers ready to be certified.

However, Republicans in Hinds County, the last of four counties in the district to certify its votes, will submit numbers without including any from the 21 registered voters in a Clinton subprecinct.

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In the Warren County Republican primary, 285 people cast ballots in the District 56 race. The district includes Oak Ridge and parts of Culkin and Bovina.

Voter confusion due to legislative redistricting is blamed for more votes there than the number of people registered.

When the Hinds County Republican Executive Committee certified its totals Monday, Gunn, with 2,787 total votes, trailed Barbour by 17.

“I still have a chance, a good chance,” Gunn said Monday.

He said what’s more important is making sure everyone in the district is ensured of their right to vote.

“I cannot in good conscience not fight for those people who are being denied the right to vote,” he said.

Last week the Hinds County Republican Executive Committee, which has met almost daily since the election, agreed to allow the small Clinton subprecinct to vote again. But the Mississippi Republican Party, which was scheduled to meet this afternoon, will make the final decision on whether the disenfranchised voters in Clinton will have a say in the election.

“If and how there will be a re-vote hasn’t been figured out yet,” said Pete Perry, a member of the Hinds County Republican Executive Committee and a member of the State Republican Party.

Perry said he will wait to hear both sides at the state party headquarters today in Jackson before he decides, along with the other state party members, how he will vote.

If the Clinton voters are allowed to vote again, it could be weeks before Gunn, Barbour and voters know who will win the nomination to compete to represent the district that covers parts of Hinds, Madison, Yazoo and Warren counties.

Redistricting confusion in Hinds County also called 51 affidavit ballots into question after the election. Thirty-four of those votes were disqualified for different reasons, including being filled out wrong, not having the voter’s correct Social Security number, not having the precinct manager’s signature or changing addresses without notifying the election commission, Republican officials said.

Gunn said he will also ask the state party to reinstate some of the disqualified affidavit votes. He argues that keeping a person from voting based on a technicality is wrong.

“They lobbied to throw out (affidavits) we think shouldn’t have” been disregarded, Gunn said.

The Republican nominee will face Democrat Paige Eaves Gill of Madison County in the general election Nov. 4.