STARKVILLE — Kevin Daniels has taken a two-vote lead in the Republican primary for Ward 4 alderman after picking up two affidavit votes Thursday morning.
Daniels now leads Austin Check 94-92. The two candidates were tied after in-person and absentee ballots were counted Tuesday.
The candidates met with city election commissioners and Republican Municipal Election Committee members Thursday to process four affidavit ballots. Of those, two were accepted and both were cast for Daniels. Two were rejected because the addresses where the voters claimed to live were outside the ward.
City Clerk Lesa Hardin said the election won’t be certified until 4:30 p.m. April 13. Five absentee ballots sent to permanently disabled residents have not yet been returned. Those must be postmarked by Monday of this week and received by April 12.
Hardin said the absentees for the permanently disabled were mailed automatically, rather than by voter request, six weeks ago. She said it is likely none of the outstanding five for that ward will be returned.
“When I decided to run, this was in no way the road I thought we’d go down,” Daniels told The Dispatch after the affidavits were processed. “I’m excited about the win. Assuming everything stays the same, the general election campaign starts today.”
Check, however, said Thursday he is not quite ready to concede.
Of the two affidavits rejected, both appeared on what Check called his “walking list” he received from the Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk’s Office, meaning he campaigned at those addresses because he thought they were in the ward. One rejected affidavit came from a voter living at a sorority house on the Mississippi State University campus, which the city’s ward map deemed just outside the city limits.
While Check wasn’t ready to say he would challenge the election, he does want to review the poll book from election day and see if there were others from addresses outside of the ward who were allowed to vote.
“Now, we have a whole other can of worms open,” Check told The Dispatch. “… I don’t think there was anything done nefarious, but how many people voted who weren’t actually in the ward?
“If it turns out I lose, I’ll sleep fine,” he added. “I ran a good campaign. I didn’t take the easy road or the low road.”
Once the vote is certified, the Republican winner will face Democrat Mike Brooks in the general election June 8. Daniels, expecting his lead will hold, said he plans to stick with the strategy that looks to have won him the primary.
“We’re going to talk to a lot of people, knock on a lot of doors and get my name out to voters as much as possible,” he said.