Fraction of voters go the polls for primary

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 2, 2010

NATCHEZ — Only a trickle of Adams County voters made their way to the polls Tuesday for the first Democratic primary for Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional district.

At 3 p.m., the courthouse precinct had only seen four votes cast. At the same time, the Duncan Park precinct had only had six votes cast within its walls.

By the end of the evening, the numbers weren’t a lot higher — a total of 292 votes had been cast countywide.

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Fifty-four absentee ballots were cast prior to the election.

Adams County has 21,426 active registered voters.

But the low turnout may be the fault of the candidates themselves, those involved in the election process said.

Receiving and returning manager Pamela Bell, who was at the courthouse precinct, said she thought the election saw such a small turnout because the candidates haven’t really made themselves known.

“I don’t think the candidates campaigned enough,” she said. “A lot of people who came through — people who had business in the courthouse who weren’t necessarily from this precinct — said they didn’t even know there was an election today.”

Tuesday’s vote was a closed primary, which limited the voting pool somewhat, but Election Commissioner Larry Gardner said he has seen similar low turnouts for primaries in which candidates did not campaign in an area.

“Adams County is a high Democratic voting county, but none of the candidates have come over here, taken out advertising, even asked the county Democratic committee for help,” Gardner said. “If any of them had come here, I can guarantee you they would have gotten some votes.”

“It’s hard for people to show up and have interest when they don’t know who is running.”

The incumbent, Republican Gregg Harper, does not have any GOP challengers, and so there was not be a Republican primary.

Of the three candidates in the Democratic primary, Joel L. Gill of Pickens received 80 votes in Adams County, while James D. Jackson of Brandon received 146 and Shawn O’Hara of Hattiesburg garnered 65.

One write-in ballot was cast.

Unofficial state results show Gill winning the third district. He will face Gregg Harper and a Reform Party candidate on the November ballot.

Mississippi’s third congressional district covers 28 counties.