November 4, 2017 11:42:13 PM
Oktibbeha County has seen steady absentee voting ahead of a Tuesday special election that will see voters decide on four races and a ballot referendum.
According to circuit clerk's office, 574 voters had cast absentee ballots as of Saturday's noon deadline for in-person voting. The office will accept ballots received by mail until 5 p.m. Monday.
There are roughly 27,000 registered voters in Oktibbeha County.
Oktibbeha County Interim Circuit Clerk Angie McGinnis said absentee turnout has been "decent," especially for a special election.
"For a special election, it's been a good turnout," McGinnis said. "It's been steady."
McGinnis noted the absentee vote total includes 199 absentee ballots received from physically disabled voters. Some voters, with doctor's affidavits on file, automatically receive their ballots by mail.
Five candidates -- Teresa Davis, Sheryl Elmore, Tony Rook, Stephanie Morgan Snyder and Elaine Turner -- are vying to replace former circuit clerk Glenn Hamilton, who resigned from his position in the summer after pleading guilty to a charge of felony methamphetamine possession.
Six candidates -- Tina M. Fisher, Martesa Bishop Flowers, Margaret Monique Jordan, Sharon Livingston, Barbara A. Mitchell and Hattie Ridgel -- are running for chancery clerk. The winner will replace former clerk Monica Banks, who died last year after a long illness. Livingston has served as interim chancery clerk since October 2016.
Candidates Joe Morse and Shank Phelps are running for the District 1 Constable position.
Narissa Bradford, Cheikh A. Taylor and Lisa Wynn are vying to replace former District 38 Rep. Tyrone Ellis in the Mississippi Legislature. Ellis represented District 38 for nearly 40 years before retiring in the summer in the middle of his term.
Voters will also decide whether to allow county supervisors to move ahead with a possible sale of OCH Regional Medical Center.
Oktibbeha County Election Commission Chairman Myles Carpenter said he thinks the hospital referendum has been a big draw for absentee voters. But he added that all the races on the ballot should combine for strong voter turnout on election day.
"There's something on the ballot that everyone ought to be interested in," Carpenter said. "I think the hospital issue will bring quite a few people out. Then you've got people running for circuit clerk and chancery court clerk. Surely there's an interest in that, with as many people who are running for each position."
Carpenter acknowledged Oktibbeha County sometimes has issues with low voter turnout. To combat that, McGinnis declared September "Voter Awareness Month" in an effort to draw interest and participation for the special elections.
Carpenter said the county has prepared for the election as best it can, and he hopes people will come out to vote.
"We've been too long not voting, with low percentage (voter turnout)," Carpenter said. "This probably won't be a high-percentage election, but things are looking encouraging for it to be a good election. We've certainly tried our best to put everything together for a good election."
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