Turnout may be lower than expected

Published 12:17 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2011

BEN HILLYER/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Voters at Lovely Lane United Methodist Church on Morgantown Road vote in Tuesday’s primary.

NATCHEZ — The phones at the Adams County Election Commission office have been fairly quiet so far today, Election Commission Chairman Larry Gardner said, changing his voter turnout prediction a bit.

Gardner estimated Monday that voter turnout would be between 50 and 75 percent, but Tuesday morning he was fearful that number might be lower.

But perhaps the phones are quiet because voting is going smoothly so far, Gardner said.

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Gardner said two on-call technicians have been sent out to a few different precincts mostly because poll workers at those locations are inexperienced.

Gardner had no problems to report and the technicians were sitting tight at the office before the noon rush.

Some voters have requested assistance after choosing to vote Republican and discovering that none of the local races were on the ballot. The only contested local races are on the Democratic ballot.

Gardner said the commission encounters this problem often when big local races have candidates competing in one party.

As long as the voter speaks up before they cast their ballot, they can switch party ballots, Gardner said.

The commission heard a report of one case in which a voter questioned the party they voted in after they cast their ballot, Gardner said.

“Once they cast it, you can’t re-vote,” Gardner said.

Voters who switch primary ballots after picking up the wrong party ballot must draw a line through their name on the Republican sign-in book, initial it and switch over to the Democrat table.

Gardner said voters can solve the problem by looking at the sample ballot hanging in each precinct before choosing a party.

“This happens every four years,” Gardner said.

The majority of precincts where voters are switching parties is in Districts 1, 3 and 5, where multiple supervisor candidates are running for the Democratic ticket.

Voters may not agree on which candidate to choose on the ballot, but most vocal District 1 voters agreed the weather turned out brutally hot today.

“It’s too hot,” said Lynn Smith, who cast her ballot at the Elk’s Lodge.

Diane Beamer, who campaigned outside the Bypass Fire Station precinct on John R. Junkin Drive for Judge Charlie Vess and District 1 Supervisor Mike Lazarus, said she had been fighting the heat since 6:45 a.m. and planned to stay out there until 7 p.m.

Beamer said she remedied the heat with ice, Powerade and “by the grace of God.”

Beamer said although she has a feeling about which candidates will be winners today, she cannot be sure who will win.

Smith said she has encouraged people to vote in the primary.

“People need to pay attention to the issues before us,” Smith said. “We need (leaders) with fiscal responsibility.”

Smith said she voted in the Democrat primary because local elections affect her more personally.

Smith’s daughter, Jessica Emfinger, 23, said she took her cues from her mother and family members about which candidate to choose.

“I always try to vote,” Emfinger said.