Nearly half of registered voters cast balllots

Published 12:36 am Wednesday, May 11, 2016

NATCHEZ — Nearly half of Natchez’s registered voters turned up at one of the city’s six precincts during Tuesday’s Democratic primary election.

With 4,371 votes cast, not counting absentee and affidavit votes, 46 percent of the 9,503 registered voters in the city went out to support their candidates for mayor, municipal judge and aldermen.

While turnout was up 4 percent from 2012’s election, the city had 1,158 more registered voters then.

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Despite the increase in turnout percentages, 185 fewer voters cast ballots during this year’s primary than in 2012.

Adams County Election Commission chair Larry Gardner said he expects with absentee and affidavit votes, the total turnout could hit 50 percent, but he is disappointed nonetheless.

“I was hoping it would be 50 percent,” Gardner said. “It’s actually really good, but I’m never happy with those numbers.”

One issue that could contribute to the drop in votes could be the recent redistricting of the wards that took place in November 2015, but Gardner said the election commission took various actions to avoid that problem.

“We tried to let (voters) know where to vote before they went to the polls,” Gardner said. “We mailed out literally thousands of cards. Wouldn’t you think if (voters) were interested in voting, they would look up where to go?”

Overall, however, deputy city clerk Diane Holland said few other issues existed. One voting machine was knocked over, but was quickly fixed, some county citizens who are ineligible to vote in city elections turned up at voting precincts and had to be turned away and some candidate supporters became disgruntled amongst each other, but nothing escalate beyond words and were put to an end by candidates.

“Some of the supporters get more heated than the candidates do,” Gardner said.

Despite the few missteps, the primary went smoothly, Holland said.

“It was a steady flow of voters all day,” Holland said. “I’m pleased with that. I think it’s been an exceptional election. It’s been fun, it’s been interesting, it’s been exciting.”

The election is not over yet. Gardner said a runoff in the Ward 4 alderman race will be May 24, but said the candidates who will be in the runoff could not be confirmed until the absentee and affidavit votes are calculated. The counting of those votes will begin today.