Hinds County Election Commissioners file suit against Board of Supervisors

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HINDS COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – The Hinds County Election Commission filed a lawsuit against the Hinds County Board of Supervisors on Monday.

According to court documents, the suit was filed to determine that the $1.5 million grant with the Center for Tech and Civic Life is a binding contract.

Last week, the Hinds County Board of Supervisors decided the county will not receive a grant. The grant was supposed to be used for items like PPE, disposable pens and social distancing measures at the polls.

Board President Robert Graham said due to discrepancies in where the money would be distributed, they were not able to accept the grant.

The plaintiffs said the commission has the authority to handle election matters. They said the supervisors cannot attempt to modify or add vendors that violate the terms of the grant.

The commission claimed it applied for the grant, and it was awarded on September 26, 2020.

Graham released a statement about the lawsuit.

Mississippi State Statute §19-3-41, commonly referred to as the Home Rule Statute, very clearly states that county board of supervisors possess the authority to administer grants, gifts, matching funds, loans, or any money entrusted to the county. Further to that point, the only county entities that have a checking account and tax ID number and are able to receive and/or disperse funds are the Board of Supervisors, the Chancery Clerk, and the Circuit Clerk. Therefore, the Election Commission does not have the capacity to receive or disperse funding on its own.

Additionally, State Statute §23-15-215 says that if any election commissioner fails to properly execute the responsibilities of their office the president of the county board of supervisors may intervene to ensure a fair election process.

To that end, the Hinds County Board of Supervisors received $1.5M in grant funding from the Center for Tech and Civic Life via direct deposit into the Hinds County Board of Supervisors’ checking account on Saturday, October 24th. After a more in-depth collaboration, the funders expressed their full confidence in the Board’s ability to properly manage the funding for the upcoming election day process.

Hinds County Board President Robert Graham

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