State Orders New Election For Washington Co. Sheriff

The State Board of Elections has ordered a new sheriff's election for Washington County.

Don Wright, general counsel for the board, says it was a unanimous vote.

In last November's election Sheriff James Ross, a Democrat, won by just four votes over Republican Greg Hassell. Hassell disputed the results, saying there was evidence of election irregularities.

Wright says there has yet to be a date set for the new election, but by law it has to be at least 75 days from now. He says the State Board also ordered state staff to work with the Washington County Board of Elections to make the operation of the new election more efficient. Wright says that includes training of local staff.

Last week Ross told the state he would not object to a new election.

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A disputed sheriff's election in which the incumbent and challenger were separated by just four votes could be headed for a new election.

In a letter to the State Board of Elections today, a lawyer for Washington County Sheriff James Ross says the sheriff "would not object to the State Board entering an order calling for a new election."

The state had scheduled a hearing for next week to determine if a new election should be held. Challenger Greg Hassell said during November's election provisional votes weren't counted, ballots were misplaced, people who needed help voting were turned away from the polls, and more ballots were recorded than voters.

The State Board cancelled next week's hearing after receiving today's letter, but so far hasn't taken any further action on whether a new election will be held or not.

Hassell says he recently got a hold of county records that he says shows evidence of election irregularities.

There's no indication from the state on when it might call for a new election.

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