Voters in the Golden Triangle area turned out overwhelmingly in support of ballot initiatives legalizing medical marijuana and approving a new state flag, while also showing support Democrat Mike Espy for senator and all but Lowndes County pulling for Democrat Joe Biden in the presidential race.
In Lowndes County, voters preferred challenger Espy to Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith 13,657 votes (50.66 percent) to 12,918 (47.92 percent).
However, Lowndes voters preferred Republicans in other races. In the presidential election, Republican President Donald Trump received 13,699 (50.75 percent) of votes, while Biden received 12,913 (47.84 percent). Meanwhile in the 1st Congressional District race, Republican incumbent Rep. Trent Kelly received 14,463 votes, or 55.83 percent. His Democratic challenger Antonia Eliason received 11,406 votes (44.03 percent).
Voters voted 17,491 to 6,393 — 73.23 percent to 26.77 percent — to approve one of two proposed measures legalizing medical marijuana. Of the two measures, 16,726, (76.62 percent) of voters, opted for Initiative 65, which would have added the issue to the state constitution. Only 5,104 voters (23.38 percent) opted for Initiative 65A, which would have given the power of enacting medical marijuana policies to the state Legislature.
Lowndes County voters even more overwhelmingly approved the proposed new state flag, the Magnolia flag, with 21,648 voters (81.17 percent) to 5,021 (18.83 percent).
Lowndes County also approved House Concurrent Resolution No. 47, making it so that candidates for state office must win a majority of the vote to win a race, at 21,428 (83.63 percent) to 4,194 (16.37 percent).
In the only competitive local race, Democratic incumbent Frances O. Stewart hung onto her role as District 5 election commissioner with 2,375, or 57.12 percent to Democratic challenger Tiffany Turner’s 1,754, or 42.18 percent.
Lowndes County also re-elected state Supreme Court justice for District 3 Josiah Coleman, with 14,828 votes (67.83 percent). His challenger, Percy L. Lynchard, received only 6,848 (31.33 percent).
Circuit Clerk Teresa Barksdale said the total numbers included the absentee ballots. There are still 347 affidavits officials will begin processing today at 1 p.m., and more mail-in absentee votes are expected to come in throughout the week.
In Oktibbeha County, Biden leads narrowly with 8,243 votes, or 50.50 percent of the vote, while Trump has received 7,617 votes, or 46.66 percent.
Similarly, Democrat Espy has received 8,756 votes for U.S. Senate, or 53.81 percent of the vote, while Republican incumbent Hyde-Smith has received 7,232 votes (44.44 percent) and Libertarian candidate Jimmy Edwards has received 281 votes (1.73 percent).
The county issued 3,376 absentee ballots this year, more than twice the amount four years ago, which Circuit Clerk Tony Rook said was about 1,600. Of those, 3,131 ballots issued will be counted today or Thursday, as well as 710 affidavit ballots, Rook said.
Oktibbeha County voters overwhelmingly approved the new state flag with 13,547 yes votes over 2,615 no votes thus far (83.82 to 16.18 percent). Voters also supported the legalization of medical marijuana, with 10,566 (70.86 percent) in favor of either of two proposed resolutions, and 9,887 (74.78 percent) in favor of Initiative 65.
They also approved an initiative requiring a majority of the vote in statewide elections, rather than a majority vote in each congressional district, with 12,603 in favor and 2,893 against (81.33 to 18.67 percent).
Oktibbeha voters favored Republicans in other races, including incumbent U.S. Reps. Kelly (R-1st District) and Michael Guest (R-3rd District).
Incumbent Coleman has a comfortable lead over Lynchard received in the state Supreme Court race.
County election commissioners Greg Fulgham, Sissy Smitherman, Myles Carpenter and Ernest Rogers ran unopposed for reelection. District 4 Commissioner Joe Baker, a Republican, was re-elected with 2,682 votes to his unaffiliated opponent Anastasia Elder’s 1,123 (70.45 to 29.50 percent).
Biden and Espy carried Clay County, where 4,611 votes (56.8 percent), were cast for Biden to 3,336 (41.1 percent), cast for Trump. Espy received 4,866 votes (60 percent) to Hyde-Smith’s 3,144 (38.8 percent). Eliason outpaced Kelly with 3,946 votes (51.4 percent) to 3,724 (48.5 percent).
Voters also approved medical marijuana, with 5,333 votes for either Initiative 65 or Initiative 65A, to 1,774 votes against both. They also approved Initiative 65 over Initiative 65A, 5,209 (78.1 percent) to 1,464 (21.9 percent). Clay County voted yes to the new flag, 6,257 (78.5 percent) to 1,711 (21.5 percent), and the House resolution 6,303 (81.9 percent) to 1,359 (18.1 percent).
Coleman was also the preferred candidate for Supreme Court, with 4,721 votes (70.2 percent) to Lynchard’s 1,956 (29.1 percent).
Circuit Clerk Kim Brown Hood said those figures include in-person and absentees received through election day.
In Noxubee County, Biden outgained Trump by a 3,972-1225, or 75.6 percent to 23.3 percent, margin. All other candidates received 60 votes (1.2 percent).
In the Senate race, Espy led Hyde-Smith by a 4,067-1,165 margin (77.4 to 22.2 percent).
In the House race, Benford, who received 73.4 percent of votes, led Guest, 3,508 to 1,268.
In the Supreme Court Place 1 race, Latrice Westbrooks led Kenny Griffis, 2,667 to 1,532 (63.4 to 36.4 percent).
On the medical marijuana vote, Noxubee voters chose Initiative 65 over Initiative 65A by a 3,112 to 838 margin (78.8 percent to 21.2 percent).
Noxubee voters approved the change to election procedures by an 87 percent to 13 percent margin (4,019 to 603).
Finally, Noxubee voters approved the new state flag by an 86 percent to 14 percent margin, 4,318 votes to 103.
All absentee votes had been counted, but at least 80 provisional/affidavit votes will be counted at 3 p.m. today.