Keith Ingram, director of elections for the Secretary of State’s Office, described in a letter, addressed to Harrison County Judge Hugh Taylor, just how serious the mistakes and oversights made by the county’s elections administrator Becky Dotson were for the 2014 general election. The letter was one of the things the local elections commission took into consideration Friday as they called for Dotson’s termination, which was approved by the Harrison County Commissioners Court. “These issues are very serious,” Ingram wrote in the letter dated Nov. 26. Ingram said that after reading articles regarding the concerns and also a letter to the editor from Dotson printed in the Marshall News Messenger, he decided to give the county judge the Secretary of State’s perspective on the situation. In the letter, he noted how he became aware of the issues after being notified by military and overseas voters that they hadn’t received their ballots by the deadline in compliance with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.
“In keeping with the 45-day requirement, I send out a reminder to all county election administrators in advance of the deadline reminding them that the deadline is coming and giving them instructions,” said Ingram. “Specifically, I mention that a lack of a ballot being programmed or returned from the vendor is not an excuse.”
Ingram said they give specific instructions on the making of emergency ballots so that the deadline can be met even if the ballots aren’t ready.
He said the deadline for this year’s general election was Sept. 20. Ingram said they sent out the reminder email and ballot advisory on Sept. 10, and a follow-up email on Sept. 17 as a reminder. “Specifically, I said: ‘Every single FPCA (Federal Post Card Application) request in the office needs to be completed by the deadline. Not having ballot proofs back or not having completed logic and accuracy testing is not a sufficient excuse.’”