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Absentee ballots being counted; results not likely until Thursday

NATCHEZ — Members of the Natchez Municipal Election Commission were at work opening each of 700 absentee ballots and affidavits on Wednesday that would determine the outcome of the Natchez Municipal Election primary.

Election Commissioners open each envelope with absentee ballot and affidavit by hand and verify names and addresses before sending all of the votes through a scanner to be counted, officials said.

After a night’s rest, Municipal Election Commissioner Larry Gardner said he came to work before 8 a.m. Wednesday and likely wouldn’t have final results of Tuesday’s election until Thursday.

“We’re going to keep working all afternoon and hopefully get it all done,” Gardner said.

The door of Election Commissions office in the Adams County Courthouse stays open during the process. Several candidates piled in the office on Wednesday morning with masks and watched the envelopes being opened to ensure a fair election.

With so many absentee voters, winners of the race for Natchez Mayor, Ward 1 and Ward 4 Natchez Aldermen seats were too close to call after the polls closed on Tuesday. The only outright winner after in-person votes were tallied was incumbent Democrat Dan Dillard in the race for Ward 6 Natchez Alderman.

In the mayoral race, Democratic candidates Tony Fields and Dan Gibson were separated by a 112-vote margin. Gibson leads with 1,631 votes to Fields’ 1,519 votes, which could easily change once all of the absentee ballots and affidavits are counted.

The winner of the Democratic Party nomination will face two independent candidates — Richard Branyan and Phillip West — in the July 14 general election.

In the race for the Ward 4 Natchez Alderman seat, incumbent Democrat Felecia Bridgewater-Irving held a 45-vote lead over challenger Michael Calcote while 164 absentee ballots remain to be counted in Ward 4.

The winner of the Ward 4 race after the absentee votes are counted will face Republican challenger Brenda Floyd in the July 14 general election.

In the race for the Ward 4 Natchez Alderman seat, Democratic challenger Valencia Hall as a 46 vote lead with 292 votes to incumbent Democrat Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis’ 246 votes.

In Ward 1, 192 absentee ballots were cast that remain to be counted.

The winner of the race for Ward 4 will face independent challenger Jamar White in the July 14 general election.