What exactly happened to the Rowan ballot box?

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Debate over the Rowan Precinct ballot box is becoming just as much a topic of conversation as the race for mayor itself.

First, it took about five hours for the box to make it to city hall after polls closed at 7:00pm. The election commission chairman says one of the commissioners, Lillie Easton, went to Rowan personally, to see what was taking the box so long to show up. Part of the problem was because poll workers claim they lost the seals for the machines and the box itself.

"Ms. Easton here went to the precinct and accompanied it back to city hall as part of the security for the box," election commission chairman Joe Kinnan

Depending on your definition of "accompanied" that's where confusion may come in. Easton admits the box was not in her direct sight on the way back to city hall but says a lock was put on it.

"The box was in the manager's car and she was behind me, she followed me here," said Easton.

Easton says that manager had another poll worker in the car as well with the ballot box. They also had the key to the box.

When asked, did they have the key to the lock that was on the box in the car with them, Easton replied, "Yes,"

When asked if that was legal, Easton said, "The key stays on the box. You don't take the key off."

Once it got to city hall, election commissioners put a new seal on the box and made a note of it. Commissioners confirm the Rowan precinct did get an envelope of seals for the machines and the box. Easton says those were the only seals given to the precinct how they came up missing is still in question.

Easton says no more seals were taken to the precinct and those missing seals are still missing. She says that's concerning.

More than 200 accepted absentee ballots were in that Rowan ballot box, which is a strong hold for Mayor Johnny DuPree.

Election commissioner Turner Jones says the entire election process is working and the Rowan box will be properly handled at city hall.

"Y'all just need to start trying to use common judgement instead of trying to put something into it that's not there," said Jones.

The commission has not addressed this issue yet. It must first be brought up by the chairman and then the commission will make a ruling. So, for now all of those ballots are in limbo.

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