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Election Commission petitions in doubt

Monday, July 9, 2012, 2:25 pm News Flash Archive

All but one of the petitions of candidates for Leflore County Election Commission are in jeopardy of being rejected due to failure of the candidates to properly file the petitions before the filing deadline.

The Board of Supervisors is scheduled to take up again this afternoon the qualifying petitions of candidates for Election Commission. Under the law (MCA Section 23-15-213), the petitions are to be filed by June 4 with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors, and then the Board of Supervisors must determine which petitions are sufficient and which candidates to place on the November ballot for Election Commission. All five positions are up for reelection each year of a presidential election.

The petition for Bobbie J. Peoples, who wants to run against incumbent Debra Hibbler in District 5, does not list the name of the candidate on any of the pages of the petition. The law requires that the petition submitted must request the candidate be placed on the ballot for the intended office, and without the actual candidate's name on any of the petition pages, it seems that Ms. Peoples' petition is invalid because it nowhere requests that she be placed on the ballot for the office.

In addition, every candidate except District 1's Deveda Dillon failed to submit the necessary paperwork to the Board's Clerk before the June 4 deadline had passed. The law requires that the petition with the signatures, as well as a certificate from the Registrar (Elmus Stockstill) certifying the number of valid names on the petition, must be submitted by the deadline.

In all cases except for Mrs. Dillon, the candidates failed to attach the required certificate from the Registrar when they handed in their petitions to the Board's Clerk. The Registrar's certificate for each of these petitions was obtained, issued, and signed, after the deadline for filing had already passed.

In an Attorney General's opinion to DeLong dated Nov 3, 1987 (1987 WL 121815 (Miss.A.G.)), the AG stated:

Thus it is the opinion of this office that both the petition and the certificate of the registrar must be filed with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors not less than sixty (60) days before the election in order to be properly qualified under this statute.

Since that opinion was issued, the date of the deadline has been changed, but the rest of the law, which requires the certificate to be filed with the petition before the deadline has passed, has not been changed.

It will be interesting to see whether

a) the AG will change it's mind about what the law says, and

b) whether the Board of Supervisors will obey the law, or will approve all the candidates' names regardless of whether they complied with the law or not.

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

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