District 6 race may need more probing

Published 11:33 pm Thursday, July 9, 2009

Judge Joel Holley didn’t mince words in the courtroom on Wednesday, saying in short: someone isn’t telling the truth here.

Holley, who is presiding over the election contest in the District 6 county commission race, listened to more testimony over the validity of absentee ballots cast for Karen Berry, who won the November 2008 election. The results of that election are being contested by Orrin Fannin, whose attorney says he has proven at least seven of the votes cast for Berry shouldn’t count. And, if those are disqualified, the results of the election could change.

Holley has the unenviable task of trying to rule in this case, and we hope that we’ll hear his ruling within the next two weeks. We’ve listened for months as attorneys have raised questions of residency; legitimacy of witnesses and notarization of ballots; and, now, whether or not an individual actually cast the ballot which bears her name. For the record, she says she did not cast the ballot.

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Which leaves us to the judge’s assessment that someone isn’t telling the whole truth … And that’s where the next question lies.

What criminal charges, if any, could result?

Perjury, for lying under oath? Witness tampering, if allegations of attempting to bribe a witness to keep her from testifying prove true? Voter fraud, if absentee ballots were knowingly cast in violation of the law?

Officials with the state Attorney General’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office are hesitant to say what, if any, action they might pursue after this trial. But we believe, based on what the public has heard so far, that further investigation of this situation is warranted. The taxpayers of District 6, and all of Pike County, deserve no less.