Foot traffic on the Hinds County Courthouse’s basement level went from casual to concentrated as the clock ticked Monday afternoon. Hallways began to get congested as Republican and Democratic managers at the county’s 119 precincts each picked up their box of supplies for today’s primary runoff – red for Republican and blue for Democrat.
A couple of hours earlier, employees in the circuit clerk’s office began placing completed absentee ballots in the numbered precinct boxes. Preparations were quiet and deliberate, in sharp contrast to the constant buzz and raised voices in the days following the Aug. 2 primary. Primary-day snafus with ballots, voting machines and poll workers to post-election arguments about absentee ballots and vote-counting security, increased tensions in the Democratic primary.
“I hope it will be a different day tomorrow,” Hinds County Democratic Executive Committee chairman Claude McInnis said Monday. “The lack of information on how elections work contributed to it more than anything.”
In Mississippi, the Democratic and Republic executive committees run their own primary and runoff. In the Aug. 2 primary, where emotions of candidates and their campaigns ran high, McInnis said, many believed his committee was physically counting absentee, affidavit and paper ballots that weren’t recorded by electronic machines.
“The committee simply does not do that,” he said. “We scan the absentee ballots, but then we give them to the resolutions committee. The Elections Commission verifies all affidavit ballots.” The county’s resolutions committee members do not come from the Republican or Democratic executive committee.
Some candidates questioned security of ballots, electronic voting machines and precinct boxes in the days following the election. Sealed electronic voting machines resembling black plastic suitcases and the red and blue precinct boxes lined the hallway walls. At times, absentee or affidavit ballots sat on tabletops as they were unpacked and prepared for their next stop.