Hinds County special election preparations will go on. That’s the bottom line after Hinds County District 1 Supervisor and board president Robert Graham and county Election Commission chair Connie Cochran met this morning. They reached an agreement for Cochran to do what the commission must do to get ready for Sept. 24 primaries, including preparing absentee and other ballots in time to meet state-mandated deadlines. The anticipated $67,000 cost wll be paid out of the Election Commission budget, and not from the county’s general fund, they agreed. Their action came after three days of wrangling by the board. Three members didn’t want to pay for the primary to fill District 2 and District 4 supervisor vacancies despite an attorney general’s opinion that makes it clear counties must fund special elections despite their ability to pay for it.
Graham, District 5 Supervisor Kenneth Stokes and interim District 2 Supervisor Al Hunter said the county couldn’t afford to pay for special election primaries. Cochran on Wednesday offered to pay the cost through her county-supplied budget. But supervisors at the Wednesday meeting did not take her up on that offer, instead abruptly adjourning and immediately receiving threats of legal action by both Hinds County Democratic and Republican party leaders.
Complicating the issue is the parties’ unusual decision to hold primaries in the first place, rather than choosing their own candidate for each post, which would have avoided primaries. That decision was driven by Democrats’ belief that all candidates should declare a party affiliation and that independent candidates shouldn’t get a free ride into the general election.