Temporary Restraining Order Issued in Ballot Dispute

By: Jon Kalahar Email
By: Jon Kalahar Email

Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Tomie Green issued a temporary restraining order Tuesday.

Pike County election commissioner, Trudy Berger, a Democrat, wanted to stop the Mississippi secretary of state's office from sending out sample ballots with the Wicker-Musgrove Senate race near the bottom.

Wednesday evening, the Mississippi Supreme Court dissolved that order.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, mailed the ballots out to the county election commissioners.

But those ballots could be recalled with another ruling from Judge Green.

"I took an oath to uphold the law and all I'm asking is that y'all do the same," said Berger.

Republican Gov. Haley Barbour ruled to keep the special election Senate race near the bottom of the ballot, as special elections have been listed in 2002, when Musgrove was governor, 2004, and 2006.

Berger's attorney did the talking in a circuit court hearing to move the race up the ballot.

"I am trying to get her to order, issue an order, saying that the ballot the secretary of state's office issued is unlawful and to send out the corrected ballot," said attorney Sam Begley.

Arguments from both sides are based on two state laws. Statute 23-15-367 gives the order races are to appear on a ballot. However, it does not specify if the order is for a regular election or a special election. And that's what the governor's attorney told Judge Green.

"It was not meant for a ballot, for the placement of those people who are running for special election. It was meant for placement of those people running for a regular election," said Barbour's attorney, John Henegan.

State law does say a special election must be "clearly distinguished" from the regular election. Historically, the state has done that by placing special elections near the bottom of the ballot.

"The statute we're talking about is very plainly read to me that you put all national races in one place and don't take the most prominent election in our state today and put it at the bottom of the ballot," said Begley.

Judge Green has yet to issue her ruling. Attorney General Jim Hood, A Democrat, issued a statement saying the election commissioners in all 82 counties have a statutory duty to place the Wicker-Musgrove race with the other regular U.S. Senate race, contrary to what is shown on the secretary of state's sample ballot.

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  • by E.L. on Sep 11, 2008 at 09:12 PM
    Why is it the Democrats have such a hard time marking a ballot? Over and over and over and over....
  • by Anonymous on Sep 11, 2008 at 06:56 PM
    Democrats depend on an IGNORANT electorate. They must have this near the top for the Obama voters, so they say.
  • by c. Location: meridian on Sep 11, 2008 at 05:39 PM
    Why is it the Republicans have such a hard time following the law? Over and over and over and over... ENOUGH.
  • by Danny Location: Preston on Sep 11, 2008 at 03:46 PM
    i agree voters should be able to find any race that is there. electronic ballots are great plus old folks can make the print larger. best thing govt ever did
  • by Bob on Sep 11, 2008 at 02:38 PM
    Why is it the Democrats think their voters are too stupid to locate the race on the ballot? We all know where Tomie Green will go with this. Judges don't run under party labels anymore but we all know she's a Democrat. Now we'll find out if she's a Democratic hack like Jim Hood, or can think for herself. Special elections have always been listed separately. But the Democrats somehow think putting it higher up on the ballot will mean a win for Musgrove. It could just as easily lead to more votes for Wicker. I can tell you, I can't wait to vote for Wicker. Musgrove is a fool for being a part of this insanity.
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