ELECTION UPDATE: Voter turnout low so far

Published 4:40 pm Tuesday, May 1, 2012

ROD GUAJARDO/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Elvin Barnes casts his vote Tuesday morning at the Elks Lodge on Lower Woodville Road. Long lines weren't an issue Tuesday morning at several polling locations.

NATCHEZ — Election commissioners say voter turnout is at approximately 28 percent as of 4 p.m., much lower than they expected.

Larry Gardner, election commission chairman, said he is disappointed by the low turnout so far today. Gardner said voter turnout is highest at Ward 3 polling location Elks Lodge with 38 percent. The turnout for the remaining polling locations is approximately 22-29 percent.

The commission predicted Monday that approximately 55 to 75 percent of the approximately 10,000 registered voters would show up at the polls today, and Gardner said he hopes voters make a strong showing at the polls in the final hours of the election.

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“I’m amazed at how low it is,” Gardner said. “I’m really disappointed. If there is not a strong push in the new couple of hours, we’re never going to make it to 50 percent (turnout).

Polls close at 7 p.m.

Poll workers at all three locations said voting has gone smoothly all day without any problems or complaints from voters.

Ward 1 voter Ethel L. Dixon cast her vote today at the city council chambers for Ward 1 Alderman incumbent Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis. Dixon, a Buckner Avenue resident, said she supports Mathis because Mathis has fought hard to get the drainage problems on Buckner fixed.

“For years we’ve been trying to get drainage fixed,” Dixon said. “(Mathis) is just now getting us what we really need, and I think she needs to stay in there another four years to finish it.”

Dixon declined to say which Democratic candidate she voted for in the mayor’s race, but she said the mayor’s race has been more exciting this year than past years. She said she believes no matter who you support, Natchezians should come to the polls today so their voices can be heard.

“To get what you want and to elect the people you want, you’ve got to come out here and vote,”

Husband and wife Keith and Millicent Smith said they want change in city government. The Smiths voted at Duncan Park in support of the new candidates in the city races.

Millicent said she was supporting Ward 6 Alderman candidate Dianne P. Brown, City Clerk candidate Temple Hendricks in today’s primary and independent mayoral candidate Bill Furlow in the general election.

“To accomplish anything and to move forward in the city, we’re going to have to start doing things differently,” Millicent said.

Millicent said she believes Ward 6 Alderman incumbent Dan Dillard is very qualified for the job, but she said the board of aldermen needs a clean slate.

“I think it’s going to be hard to move forward with the same people in office,” she said. “We need people who can start fresh.”

Keith said he is fed up with current city government, and he said it is time for a change.

“It’s not working,” he said. “We don’t feel safe, crime is rampant. Nothing is being done to bring the people of Natchez together, and I want candidates who will represent all the people of Natchez.”

Independent and Republican party candidates in the city elections will not appear on today’s ballot.

Democratic, Republican and independent candidates will appear on the June 5 general election ballot.