Judge Orders New Election After Discovering Unsettling Truth About Majority of Absentee Ballots
Election workers process mail-in and absentee ballots at West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 4.
Matt Slocum / AP
Election workers process mail-in and absentee ballots at West Chester University in West Chester, Pennsylvania, on Nov. 4. (Matt Slocum / AP)
By Elizabeth Stauffer
Published March 4, 2021 at 1:09pm
A Mississippi judge has ordered a new runoff election to be held for the alderman seat in Aberdeen’s Ward 1.
Special Judge Jeff Weill cited “evidence of fraud and criminal activity in how absentee ballots were handled, how votes were counted, and the actions by some at the polling place” in a 64-page order, according to WCBI-TV.
In the Democratic runoff election last June, Nicholas Holliday defeated his opponent, Robert Devaull, by 37 votes. Devaull then challenged the results in court.
The judge said that 66 of the 84 absentee ballots cast were not valid and should never have been counted, WCBI reported. That represents 78.5 percent of the absentee ballots.
The report said that after discovering numerous irregularities, the judge issued a bench warrant for Dallas Jones, who notarized the absentee ballots. She was arrested and charged with voter fraud, WCBI reported.
“When you have an absentee ballot, there’s an envelope, and you vote and then you fold the ballot up and you put it in this envelope, and then you lick the flap, and then you sign across the flap, and then the notary signs your election certificate,” Devaull’s attorney, Lydia Quarles, told the station. “And she actually testified that nobody — she didn’t sign in front of anybody, she didn’t see anybody sign it. She just notarized them. She just stamped them.”
Jones told the court that she was called to then-Alderwoman Lady Garth’s home in June “to correct her father’s absentee ballot paperwork. While there, Jones testified she notarized ‘about 30 something ballots,’” WCBI reported.
Weill found that 83 regular ballots were counted without being initialed by election workers, the station reported.
According to WCBI, the judge’s ruling also said there was “clear evidence of voter intimidation and harassment” at the polls on Election Day.
“State law says candidates and supporters must stay at least 150 feet away from the polling place,” the report said. “In his ruling, the judge said Holliday, along with Police Chief Henry Randle, and former Mayor Maurice Howard acted as if they were above the law, repeatedly violating criminal statutes.”
After Weill’s ruling, DeVaull told WCBI, “It was always a lot of distraction in Ward 1, that’s what I said earlier, I would like to see, going forward, that be cleaned up, people being able to come and go, vote for who they want to.” He said he is looking forward to a fair contest for the seat.
Holliday’s attorney, Walter Zinn Jr., who is also the Aberdeen city attorney, issued the following statement to WCBI on Monday:
“Upon review of the orders by the Special Judge, my client and I are left offended in part and befuddled by the ruling of the court. While we respect this legal process and the days of deliberation of each party, the findings of fact are grossly inconsistent with testimony of the witnesses and reflect more of the ‘copied and pasted’ sentiments of the Defendant than what the record from the proceedings would affirm.”
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“While left disappointed with these findings, we will explore all the legal remedies afforded to Mr. Holliday under the law including but not limited to a request for the Court to reconsider its findings; a judgment notwithstanding the verdict or new trial; or the appellate process.”
“We are very concerned with the mass disenfranchising of voters, who never testified or subpoenaed to Court; poll workers conduct was attacked, but never listed in name, nor called to testify. There are serious legal and ethical implications from the ruling that we are compelled to explore. We know that this verdict does not reflect the sentiments of the majority of voters of Aberdeen and will seek relief where the law and circumstances allow.
“Mr. Holliday personally would like to thank all of his supporters for their prayers and support through this process. “
I know, who cares who ultimately wins the alderman seat in a Mississippi city? Aside from the candidates themselves and some residents of the ward, probably no one.
Still, it will be interesting to see how this particular case plays out for two reasons.
First, Weill discovered wrongdoing and took action — unlike countless other judges who refused to even look at the cases brought forward by former President Donald Trump’s legal team.
It is still not to late for the truth to be known.