By David Howell
WATER VALLEY – Thursday ended with two-thousand three hundred and twelve green check marks in the county’s official poll book. These check marks were placed beside each person who had signed the beer petition and checked out as a registered voter in the county.
“We certified the petition and handed to the Chancery Clerk at 8:30 this (Friday) morning,” Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney said.
“If there was any doubt, we threw it out,” Burney said about the name checking process that lasted from Tuesday afternoon until Thursday night.
Burney and the election commissioners removed dozens of duplicates – some folks signed the petition more than three times – and others who were not qualified voters in the county from the petition that started with over 2,800 people and ended with 2,312 people. This final figure is more than 150 over the benchmark, which was 20 percent of the registered voters in the county.
“We were committed to do a job that we were appointed to do by the supervisors,” Burney said about his, and the election commissioners countless hours spent in the three-day period verifying the names.
“We have been working in shifts,” Election Commission Bob Chandler said about the process. Chandler serves as the chairman of the five commissioners who are elected from each Beat in the county. Commissioners include June Byford, Steve Cummings, Ora Polk, Missy Kimzey and Chandler.
Chandler added said that a handful of the names were removed because they had passed away since signing the petition.
The original petition was handed to Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn Tuesday morning, Sept. 4, following a heated discussion during the first-of-the-month board meeting held in Coffeeville.
Upon receiving the petition, McMinn reported that she spent the entire afternoon Tuesday making certified copies for the verification process. Each page in the three-inch stack was officially stamped, with the date and time also added to each page.
The next step could be for supervisors to review the names on the petition, after Board Attorney John Crow advised them that they were ultimately responsible for making sure the petition was valid in the Sept. 4 meeting.
An attorney for the Yalobusha Progressive Association, John Arant, who was also at the Sept. 4 meeting and Board Attorney John Crow could not agree on statutory requirements for the time frame in which the beer issue should be placed on a ballot for voters.
Supervisors will set the date of the election. Proponents of the petition were ultimately hoping the date would coincide with the Nov. 6 general election, keeping the county from having a second, costly election days or weeks after the general election.