Turnout better than May 1 primary, but still low

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ben Hillyer | The Natchez Democrat — Natchez residents of all types went to the polls Tuesday morning to vote in the Democratic primary runoff for mayor.

NATCHEZ — Natchez voters showed up to the polls for Tuesday’s Democratic runoff in surprisingly high numbers — higher than the first Democratic primary two weeks ago.

Overall voter turnout was 45.7 percent, with 4,854 of the 10,660 registered voters casting votes in the mayoral runoff election between Larry L. “Butch” Brown and Phillip West.

For more photos from Tuesday’s Democratic Primary run-off click here

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Brown defeated West with 56 percent of the vote.

More absentee ballots were cast in the runoff than the first primary as well, with 327 for the second primary and 297 in the first.

Although voter turnout for the second primary was more than the May 1 primary, Election Commission Chairman Larry Gardner said he was still disappointed voter turnout did not reach 50 percent.

“When you think about that, isn’t that pathetic that (more than half) the people (in the city) don’t care who leads this community.

Gardner said he does not believe voter turnout will be any higher for the June 5 general election between Brown, Republican Bob Buie and independent Bill Furlow.

Ward 6 voter Brenda Browning said she would be voting in the general election because she votes in every election.

“My son is a Marine, and he fought for that right,” she said. “I can’t do what my son and his friends do, so the least I can do is take advantage of the rights they are fighting for.”

Browning said although people may not think one or two votes count, she said she remembers when her aunt and uncle did not vote in a supervisors’ race, and the candidate they did not like won by two votes.

“I always think about that every election,” she said.

Brown said he thought the fact that turnout was higher for the runoff was “revolutionary,” and he said he hopes that turnout is strong for the general election.

“I hope that low voter turnout and apathy is not a factor in the general election,” he said. “I hope people will come out to the polls in strong numbers, and I would like to see 10,000 votes cast.”