Polls open from 7 to 7 today

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — A steady stream of voters have been going to the polls Tuesday to vote in Adams County and state elections.

NATCHEZ — No candidates can blame their loss on the rain today since cool temperatures and sunny skies should be beckoning voters to the polls.

“The weather is ideal for (voting),” Adams County Election Commissioner Larry Gardner said.

Every voter in Mississippi has a chance in today’s General Election to make a pick in nine statewide contested races and vote on three ballot initiatives, which could potentially change the state constitution.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Residents in District 2 and District 5 will also be choosing their Adams County supervisor, and those in District 37 will also pick a state senator.

Gardner said he expects higher voter turnout in District 2 and 5, because local races tend to garner more interest.

However, a low number of absentee ballots were cast this time around — 680 — compared to previous General Elections. Gardner said the number of absentees is often indicative of voter turnout on Election Day, but he hopes that is not the case today.

In the local race for District 2 supervisor, David Carter, an Independent who will appear on the ballot for the first time, will face Incumbent Henry Watts, a Democrat.

In District 5, newcomers Calvin “Jyrodd Buford” Butler, a Democrat, will face newcomer Grady B. “Cookie” Wilson, a Republican.

Voters in senate District 37 will also be choosing a senator at the polls between Incumbent Bob Dearing, a Democrat, and newcomer Melanie Sojourner, a Republican.

Gardner said since all of the local races include political newcomers without a history at the polls, it is difficult to predict how narrow any races will be.

“At this point I’d say it’s anyone’s guess how those two (supervisors races) will be decided,” Gardner said.

Absentees tend to reflect the Election Day results, but won’t be counted today, so Gardner said he could not predict if races could be called today with the close of the polls.

Additionally, Gardner said, a wave of political change stretching across the county also makes for an unpredictable election.

“An incumbent we may think of as strong may get beat this time,” he said.

Statewide contested races include the following:

• Governor — Phil Bryant, Republican; and Johnny L. Dupree, Democrat.

• Lieutenant governor — Tate Reeves, Republican; and Tracella Lou O’Hara Hill, Reform Party.

• Attorney General — Incumbent Jim Hood, Democrat; and Steve Simpson, Republican.

• State auditor — Incumbent Stacey E. Pickering, Republican; and Ashley Norwood, Reform Party.

• State treasurer — Lynn Fitch, Republican; Connie Moran, Democrat; and Shawn O’Hara, Reform Party.

• Commissioner of agriculture and commerce — Joel Gill, Democrat; Cindy Hyde-Smith, Republican; and Cathy L. Toole, Reform Party.

• Insurance commissioner — Incumbent Mike Chaney, Republican; Louis Fondren, Democrat; and Barbara Dale Washer, Reform Party.

• Public Service Commissioner, southern district — Incumbent Leonard Bentz, Republican; and Mike Collier, Democrat.

• Transportation commissioner, southern district — Larry L. Albritton, Democrat; and Tom King, Republican.

The three initiatives appearing on the Nov. 8 ballot address a requirement of voter identification, the definition of when life begins and government’s right to seize private property for non-public use.

Gardner said he has heard lots of buzz about Initiative 26, the personhood amendment, and he hopes having the initiatives on the ballots will get more folks to the polls.

Gardner said due to the initiatives, the ballot will be six pages, which is lengthy.

“Be patient, go through all the pages and make sure you cast the ballot,” he said.

Peak hours at the polls will likely be before work from 7-8:30 a.m., during lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and after work from 4-6 p.m.

To inquire where to vote, call the election commission at 601-445-7905 or the Adams County circuit clerk’s office at 601-446-6326.