Election fraud and criminal activity in how absentee ballots were handled by a Mississippi notary is resulting in a Judge ordering a new runoff election for an Aberdeen alderman seat.

Nicholas Holliday was declared the winner of Ward 1 over Robert Devaull by 37 votes in the June 2020 Democratic runoff election. Judge Jeff Weill has now ruled that 66 of 84 absentee ballots cast in that June Democratic Primary runoff were not valid and should not have been counted.

The judge issued a bench warrant for notary Dallas Jones. Jones admitted at a hearing that she violated notary duties, assisting persons to vote absentee in violation of Mississippi Code 23-15-753.

That code section reads:

(1) Any person who willfully, unlawfully and feloniously procures, seeks to procure, or seeks to influence the vote of any person voting by absentee ballot, by the payment of money, the promise of payment of money, or by the delivery of any other item of value or promise to give the voter any item of value, or by promising or giving the voter any favor or reward in an effort to influence his vote, or any person who aids, abets, assists, encourages, helps, or causes any person voting an absentee ballot to violate any provision of law pertaining to absentee voting, or any person who sells his vote for money, favor, or reward, has been paid or promised money, a reward, a favor or favors, or any other item of value, or any person who shall willfully swear falsely to any affidavit provided for in Sections 23-15-621through 23-15-735, shall be guilty of the crime of “vote fraud” and, upon conviction, shall be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) nor more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or by imprisonment in the county jail for no more than one (1) year, or by both fine and imprisonment, or by being sentenced to the State Penitentiary for not less than one (1) year nor more than five (5) years.

(2) It shall be unlawful for any person who pays or compensates another person for assisting voters in marking their absentee ballots to base the pay or compensation on the number of absentee voters assisted or the number of absentee ballots cast by persons who have received the assistance.  Any person who violates this section, upon conviction shall, be fined not less than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) nor more than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), or imprisoned in the Penitentiary not less than one (1) year nor more than five (5) years, or both.

The notary, Jones, testified that she was called to the home of Democrat Alderwoman Lady Garth to correct her father’s absentee ballot paperwork, saying she notarized “about 30 something ballots.”

Lady Garth, acting mayor, was in the news recently after the State Auditor’s Office issued a demand of $30,000 saying that the vote by Garth, Holliday, and Ward 3 Alderman Edward Haynes Jr. to reinstate the salary of now ex-mayor Maurice Howard in 2020 was an illegal donation of public funds.

The judge also found other election irregularities.  Judge Weill noted that 83 regular ballots were counted without being initialed by election workers.  He said there was evidence of voter intimidation and harassment at the polling place on election day with Holliday, Police Chief Henry Randle, and former Mayor Howard intimidating and influencing voters.

“The court is of the opinion there is probable cause that several individuals involved in the disturbances during election day at the polling precinct ‘willfully and corruptly violated’ one or more of the above criminal statutes,” court filings state. “The court will leave to the appropriate authorities to determine whether the actions of Maurice Howard, Henry Randle and S. Nicholas Holliday amounted to prosecutable crimes.”