Steve Daquilla votes this morning at Carrier Lodge voting precinct in Columbus. Today is the mid-term elections and polls will be open until 7 p.m. Photo by: Mary Pollitz/Dispatch Staff
November 6, 2018 10:31:21 AM
By the time the polls opened Tuesday morning, more than 2,300 people in Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties had already voted, leaving circuit clerks in both counties feeling optimistic about a good turnout.
In Lowndes County, 1,218 people had voted by absentee ballot by Monday afternoon while another 1,093 voters had submitted those ballots in Oktibbeha County.
"That's a pretty high number for a mid-term election," said Lowndes County Circuit Clerk Teresa Barksdale. "Usually, you can make a comparison between absentee votes and turnout. When absentee votes are high, that usually means more people are going to turn out on election day."
The number of people voting by absentee ballot for this election is more than double the number of those who voted absentee in the 2014 mid-term elections, when 648 people voted absentee in Lowndes County and 393 voted absentee in Oktibbeha County.
Starkville is home to Mississippi State University, where large numbers of its more than 20,000 students won't be in their hometown. But Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk Tony Rook doesn't think students voting absentee are responsible for the 600-plus vote increase in absentee voting.
"We're not tracking it, obviously, but based on what I've been seeing every day, the people who are coming in to vote by absentee ballot are regular citizens," Rook said. "I'm not sure really what's driving that, but we're happy that the numbers are up."
Ballots in all four Golden Triangle counties will include a local nonpartisan race for judges in the 14th District Chancery Court. In Place 1, which covers part of Oktibbeha County, are candidates Elizabeth Fox Ausbern, Gene Barton, R. Todd Bennett, Rodney Faver and Lee Ann Turner; in Place 2, which covers parts of Lowndes and Clay counties, Gary Street Goodwin, Carrie A. Jourdan and Joseph N. "Joe" Studdard; and Place 3, in parts of all four counties, Paula Drungole-Ellis and Roy A. Perkins.
All four counties will also include two races for U.S. Senate, a regular election pitting Republican incumbent Roger Wicker against Democrat David Baria, and a special election to fill the term of Thad Cochran, who retired in April. That race is among Republicans Cindy Hyde-Smith (who was appointed to hold the seat until the special election) and Chris McDaniel and Democrat Mike Espy.
Other contested races include those for District 1 and District 3 U.S. House of Representatives, depending on where a person lives.
There are two changes in poll locations in Oktibbeha County. Those who voted at the Fire Station on Jackson Street will now vote at Trinity Church on Hospital Road while people who voted at Humphrey Coliseum will vote at St. Joseph Catholic Church on University Drive.
In Lowndes County, those who voted at Southside Missionary Baptist Church in the June primary will vote at the National Guard Armory, which was temporarily unavailable in June.
Anyone who is unsure of where they vote, can go to www.sos.ms.gov/PollingPlace and use the poll locater.
Polls are open until 7 p.m. today.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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