Fulco Wins Battle For The Badge
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WATER VALLEY – Mark D. Fulco added 161 votes to his tally in last Tuesday’s special election for sheriff, giving him a 200-vote victory in a race that spanned more than a year and included a lengthy court battle that was ultimately decided by the Mississippi Supreme Court.
The battle for the badge between candidates Fulco and Luther G. Folson, Jr. started with the Nov. 5, 2019, General Election in which Fulco was certified the winner with a slim, two-vote margin. Folson contested the results and a judge ruled in January, 2020, that the results would only stand in 10 of the 12 precincts, giving Fulco as 39-vote lead. The judge also ruled that all of the votes cast in Beat One North and Beat 4 Oakland were invalid and voters would return to the polls in both precincts to vote for a second time.
It would end up taking more than a year before the new election could be held after Folson appealed the lower court ruling to the Mississippi Supreme Court. After months of legal wrangling, the state’s highest court affirmed the lower court ruling in a November order, allowing Governor Tate Reeves to set Feb. 23 as the special election date in the two precincts.
A look at the two boxes in the special election shows that Fulco carried the Beat One precinct with 65 percent of the 648 votes cast, a larger margin than the 2019 election when he received 58 percent of 804 votes cast. And although Folson carried the most votes in Beat 4 Oakland in both elections, his margin became slimmer as he received 63 percent of the 616 votes cast in the 2019 election, compared to 53 percent of the 503 votes cast in the special election.
The election results were scheduled to be certified after presstime Tuesday night by Yalobusha County Election Commissioners. Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney explained the final results could not be certified until five working days after the special election, as there are four outstanding mail-in absentee ballots and two photo ID affidavit ballots. State law allows mail-in absentee ballots to be counted if they are postmarked no later than the date of the election and arrive in the circuit clerk’s mailbox within five working days of the election.
Likewise, voters who vote affidavit because they are unable to show a photo ID on election day have five working days after the election to return to the circuit clerk’s office and present a photo ID to allow vote to be counted.
Following the certification of the election, Fulco will be sworn in a second time as sheriff Wednesday morning. Circuit Judge Smith Murphey will administer the oath of office at 9 a.m. in the courtroom at the Coffeeville courthouse.