Five Franklin County pollworkers face charges accusing them of election fraud during the Nov. 3 general election at the Bude precinct.
Sheriff James Newman said Circuit Judge Forrest “Al” Johnson issued warrants for their arrests on Friday, and all five posted $100 bond that same day to be released from the county jail.
Charged were Ann Reed, 59, of Meadville, Margie McNair, 61, of Bude, Dona Jones, 66, of Meadville. They are all accused of violating a state elections law forbidding “dishonest decisions by managers” of polling places “concerning qualifications of voters.”
The women allegedly did not check voter qualifications, according to Anita Leonard, a Republican Party poll watcher who is one of two people who filed the charges.
State law says if an election manager knowingly permits an unqualified person to vote or prohibits a qualified person from voting, the manager may face jail time of up to three months, a fine of up to $200 or both.
Also facing charges are Prentiss Harris, 65, and Gloria Smith, 67, both of Bude, for allegedly breaking a state law that says an election officer who aids or influences a voter in preparing a ballot may be fined no less than $10 and no more than $200.
All of the women were working the Bude precinct on Election Day.
Leonard and Carl Cupit, both Republican Party observers at the precinct, filed the charges on Nov. 13.
Leonard said earlier this month that she saw pollworkers going beyond what is allowed in helping voters.
Leonard also alleged that the pollworkers weren’t properly checking voters’ identification.
The alleged discrepancies in the Bude precinct come as Sen. Melanie Sojourner, R-Natchez, gets ready to examine ballot boxes in Franklin and Adams County in her close loss to Bob Dearing in the Senate District 37 race.
Dearing, a Democrat who held the seat for 32 years before Sojourner defeated him four years ago, won his seat back from Sojourner by a 62-vote margin.
Dearing carried Adams and Franklin counties in the general election earlier this month.
And it’s unclear whether the allegations of wrongdoing at the Bude precinct are the reason why Franklin County elections officials said they intend to hand count paper ballots that will be cast in Tuesday’s runoff for the 4th District Chancery Court judge seat.