Mekus seeks recount of votes

Published 10:43 pm Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Republican Patty Mekus, who was defeated by 56 votes in her challenge to become Warren County tax collector, has asked for a full recount of ballots cast in the Nov. 8 general election, according to a letter delivered to county officials Wednesday.

Mekus, 45, director of development and alumni affairs at Vicksburg Catholic School, cited loyalty to her supporters in her loss to incumbent Antonia Flaggs-Jones in results certified last week by the Secretary of State’s Office.

“Due to the very narrow margin of the Tax Collector’s race, the number of absentee ballots, and affidavit ballots, I hereby notify you that I am exercising my right as stated in Mississippi Code 1972, Section 23-15-911, to canvass the contents of the ballot boxes from the Nov. 8, 2011 election,” stated a letter Mekus said was delivered by campaign representative Bob Croisdale to Antonia Flaggs-Jones’ home and via phone message.

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Flaggs-Jones was visiting relatives in Dallas on Wednesday for the Thanksgiving holiday, said state Rep. George Flaggs, her uncle. Flaggs said he believes the home delivery of the notice could prove insufficient for the purposes of the statute. Calls to the Attorney General Jim Hood’s Office and to Circuit Clerk Shelly Ashley-Palmertree were not returned late Wednesday.

“Because of the overwhelming support I have received, I feel I have an obligation to take this routine step in this close race,” Mekus said in an e-mail announcing her decision.

The law allows candidates to request a full examination of votes within 12 days of an initial canvass, provided an opposing candidate or an opponent’s family member older than 18 within three days of a requested recount. They must take place in the presence of the circuit clerk or a deputy circuit clerk. If complaints result over a precinct’s results, a second vote is possible.

Flaggs-Jones, a Democrat, won the poll vote by 101 votes over Mekus. Mekus closed the gap during the five days of counting absentee and affidavit ballots, though the incumbent emerged with 7,630 votes to the challenger’s 7,574.

Absentees were reprinted after the Secretary of State’s Office agreed with the Attorney General’s Office and included economic impact statements on three constitutional initiatives before voters statewide. Many, including those delivered to Warren County, were not scannable into main processing computers. It resulted in a manual count of 665 absentee votes recorded for each woman in the results certified by the state.

Flaggs-Jones was appointed to the tax collector’s position in 2009 by the Warren County Board of Supervisors after the retirement of Patricia Simrall. She then was elected without opposition in a special election.