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Judge orders new Democratic vote in Wilkinson Co.

Chancery Judge Jim Persons has announced that the new election ordered in the long-running Wilkinson County Democratic Party primary contest will take place April 15.

Persons also said in his recent order that the general election be held May 20.

In February, Persons threw out absentee, affidavit or curbside ballots from the Aug. 7, 2007, primary. He said these ballots would not be counted because it could not be determined that they had been kept safe from tampering.

Without those ballots, the judge said, the will of the voters could not be determined and a new election must be called.

Persons has been hearing a challenge to the primary results from Circuit Clerk Mon Cree Allen, Sheriff Reginald Jackson and Wilkinson County Supervisor Richard Hollins.

The three are challenging the results of a county Democratic Party Executive Committee hearing into the county’s Aug. 7 primary, in which challengers Kirk Smith, Jessie Stewart and Jeanette “Lynn” Tolliver Delaney were declared the winners in the race for supervisor, sheriff and circuit clerk, respectively.

A majority of the committee voted during the hearing to discard the paper ballots cast during the election because of alleged irregularities, and to use the electronic voting machine totals as the official results.

Smith, Stewart and Delaney were leading when the polls closed on Aug. 7. However, Allen, Jackson and Hollins were initially declared the winners after making significant gains following the counting of the paper ballots.