Gardner: Runoff almost guaranteed with large ballot

Published 12:56 am Sunday, August 5, 2007

NATCHEZ — After Tuesday’s primary elections, everyone can relax for a little while.

Unless, of course, there’s a runoff.

And with so many contested races, especially on the Democratic ballot, it’s almost a guarantee that there will be at least one runoff, Election Commission Chairman Larry Gardner said.

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“I would bet the farm we’re going to have a runoff,” Gardner said.

To win, a candidate has to receive 50 percent of the votes plus one vote.

A runoff occurs when no candidate makes that goal. For example, one candidate might receive 40 percent of the vote, another 35 percent and another 25. While the first candidate had the most votes, he wouldn’t win.

The two top-scoring candidates then compete in another election.

“The Democratic Party is going to be challenged to certify the ballots in that short period of time,” Gardner said.

Absentee and affidavit ballots have to be certified, and if there’s a runoff, it has to be done before the scheduled Aug. 28 runoff date.

The process is the same for a runoff as it is for a full election. Voting machines have to have new ballots installed, new absentee and affidavit ballots have to be printed and poll workers have to be hired.

“A runoff would have a smaller ballot,” Gardner said.

However, a runoff might not draw the interest or the voter turnout that a full primary would, he said.

“The more candidates that are involved, the more voters are interested,” Gardner said. “(If there are many candidates), everybody knows somebody on the ballot.”