Ballot certification a week away

Published 12:03am Thursday, November 8, 2012

NATCHEZ — Ballot certification in Adams County won’t likely be done until next week, but when it is, Election Commission Chairman Larry Gardner said the total voter turnout should come to 75 percent for the 2012 presidential election.

But before the votes can be certified, election commissioners will have to process the 1,700 absentee ballots, a possible 1,000 more affidavit ballots — the exact number is not known until all of the precinct boxes are opened — and those received on Election Day, which can only be counted for president.

That process won’t likely be a short one, Gardner said, because the state’s electronic elections system is moving “at a snail’s pace.”

“The system literally shut down the election process at times, and obviously it is not designed for the traffic it should be designed for,” Gardner said.

The election commissioners have to log into the system to access a voter’s past voting history to ensure they cast their ballots in the right precinct and if they are qualified to vote, he said.

“If we could get into that stuff and access it, we wouldn’t have all these affidavit ballots to deal with,” Gardner said.

When the commissioners count the absentee, affidavit and other paper ballots, they still have to enter that information into the system for future records. A system that isn’t operating at optimal speed only slows that process down.

“We have to open every single envelope, straighten them out and feed them through an optical scanner,” Gardner said.

“It is a long, drawn-out process when you have that much paper to process.”

As of Wednesday, four precincts had been processed, leaving another 16 to go before all paper ballots are officially counted.

In Concordia Parish, two elections remain to be decided after no single candidate gained a majority of the vote. The run-off will be Dec. 8. Early voting begins Nov. 24 and ends Dec. 1.

In Ferriday’s alderman district B, incumbent Elijah “Steppers” Banks will face off against challenger “Chris” Chatman. Chatman received 43 percent of the vote, while Banks received 37 percent.

A third candidate, Allen Froust, was eliminated from the race with only 18 percent of the vote.

In school board district 4B, contender David Turner was eliminated after he garnered approximately 14 percent of the vote.

The two remaining candidates are Jeffery Goodman, who received approximately 44 percent of the vote, and Angela Hayes, whose campaign garnered approximately 42 percent of the vote.

On the December ballot will also be a parish-wide drainage tax proposal.

Monterey-area voters will also decide if a $50 parcel fee will be levied to support the Monterey fire district.