By KELLY DANIELS and BRIAN HAWKINS
Starkville Daily News
Today’s special election for Northern District transportation commissioner will be held in Oktibbeha County and in other counties in north Mississippi.
Amid concerns about the impact of Sunday’s winter storm, wasn’t until 1:15 p.m. Monday when county election commissioners knew for certain that they would open the polls today.
Having waited on Gov. Hailey Barbour to give a thumbs up, it was crunch time opening precincts for today’s special election. Polls are scheduled to be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today.
Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk Angie McGinnis said Monday that voters are asked to be patient in case not all of the 21 polling places are ready to open right at 7 a.m. today.
“We normally have that set up and ready to go, but the weather put us in a bind,” McGinnis said. “We’ll have them open as soon as we can.
If a precinct happens to be closed, the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex will serve as a default voting site.
Some 142 registered voters have already submitted absentee ballots, McGinnis said.
What voters need to know today
All registered voters in the county’s 21 voting precincts can vote in today’s special election, McGinnis said.
• Because this is a not a primary election, voters will not have to declare a party affiliation when they go to the polls to vote.
Upon entering the polling place, voters will go to the table where poll workers will be waiting for them to sign the poll book and give them the appropriate ballot card for the touch-screen voting machine.
• Sample ballots will be posted at the polling places.
• Polling places open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
• If candidates plan to have poll watchers stationed at the polling places to watch voting, they must submit the appropriate forms to the Circuit Clerk’s Office naming the poll watchers before the poll watchers go to the polling place.
• No political campaign materials are allowed to be worn, carried or distributed within 150 feet of any polling place, according to state law. Candidates who violate this regulation are subject to being fined.
Bailiffs stationed at each polling place will enforce that regulation, McGinnis said.
• Voters are reminded not to loiter in the polling place after casting their ballot, McGinnis said.
• If a resident registered to vote by mail and Tuesday’s runoff will be the first time they have voted since registering, he or she will be asked to show a valid identification when they arrive at the polling place before being allowed to vote. This is required under the federal Help America Vote Act.
Valid forms of identification include a current and valid photo ID (i.e. a driver’s license), a current utility bill with the voter’s name and address, a bank statement with the voter’s name and address, a government check with the voter’s name and address, a pay check with the voter’s name and address or any other government document that shows the voter’s name and address.
• All ballots will be counted in the large courtroom at the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex after the polls close at 7 p.m.
• All vote totals released after the initial count Tuesday night are unofficial until the Oktibbeha County Election Commission certifies the results on Wednesday. The certification process will include the counting of any affidavit ballots that are cast, McGinnis said.
Anyone with questions about the election can call the Circuit Clerk’s Office at 323-1356.
Where to vote: Polling places
Here is a list of the county’s polling places for today’s special election (listed according to county supervisor district):
• West Starkville — National Guard Armory, Highway 12 West, Starkville.
• South Adaton — Adaton Baptist Church, 1975 Old Highway 82 West
• North Longview — Longview Fire Station, 2168 Highway 12 West.
• Self Creek/Double Springs — New fire station, 3407 U.S. 82 West, Maben.
• Osborn — 16th Section Road Fire Station, 1726 16th Section Road.
• Northeast Starkville — Humphrey Coliseum, Mississippi State University.
• North Starkville II — Boardtown Village, 905 N. Montgomery Street.
• Hickory Grove/Southeast Starkville — East Oktibbeha Fire Station, Highway 182 East.
• East Starkville — Humphrey Coliseum, Mississippi State University.
• North Starkville III — Fire Station No. 3, 102 W. Garrard Road at North Jackson Street.
• Bell Schoolhouse — Bell Schoolhouse Fire Station, 2221 Highway 389.
• Maben — Maben City Hall, 4026 2nd Ave., Maben.
• Center Grove/North Adaton — Adaton Fire Station, 2237 Reed Road.
• South Starkville — Starkville Sportsplex, 405 Lynn Lane.
• South Longview — Longview Fire Station, 2168 Highway 12 West.
• Craig Springs/South Bradley — Craig Springs Fire Station, 2199 Craig Springs Road, Sturgis.
• Sturgis/North Bradley — Sturgis Fire Station, 2729 Montgomery St., Sturgis
• Central Starkville — Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex, 108 W. Main St.
• Gillespie Street — Gillespie Street Center, 610 E. Gillespie St.
• Sessums — Sessums Fire Station, 3100 Turkey Creek Road.
• Oktoc — Oktoc Fire Station, Oktoc Road just south of the Oktoc Community Center.
Who's on the ballot
Today’s special election for transportation commission comes after the death of Commissioner Bill Minor on Nov. 1 while attending a trade conference in Biloxi.
The three-member commission oversees budgets and projects for highways, railroads, airports and other transportation services across the state.
The seven candidates for transportation commissioner:
• John Caldwell, 49, of Nesbit, is transportation director for the DeSoto County School District.
He was a DeSoto County supervisor from 1996 to 2000 and was defeated by Bill Minor in the 2003 commissioner’s race.
Caldwell was on active-duty military service during several months of the 2003 campaign. He said he wants to get the Department of Transportation “re-energized and return to working for the people.”
• Dennis Grisham, 66, of Dumas, is in his seventh term as Tippah County supervisor and is past owner of Grisham Asphalt and Paving Co., with plants in New Albany and Ripley.
He said to most citizens transportation means highways — roads to and from work, highways that attract new and expanded industry, and that brings more jobs. He said he’ll attend to those needs.
• Joey Hood, 35, of Marietta, has worked for the Department of Transportation for 17 years, most recently as Bill Minor’s top assistant.
He said a well-balanced transportation system to the state’s growth. He said state budgets are tight, and he wants to stretch dollars for highway construction and maintenance.
• Larry Lee, 58, of Grenada, owns an auto trucks parts business in Grenada.
He said he wants to improve the business practices of the department and restore people’s trust in the agency.
• Warner McBride, 54, a state representative from Courtland and chairman of the House Transportation Committee and worked most of his adult life in his family’s civil engineering firm, which closed in recent years.
He said that as a lawmaker, he helped fund roads to a Toyota plant that’s scheduled to open next year in north Mississippi.
• Ray Minor, 66, of Holly Springs, has he worked with his late brother in their family’s three hardware stores and as a contractor for plumbing, electrical and heating services.
Minor said he doesn’t have a background in transportation or road building, but he knows highways are important for development. He said if he’s elected, he wants to help rural residents by putting more state money into local roads.
• Mike Tagert, 40, of Starkville, is president of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Council.
He said highways are important and bring jobs to Mississippi, but ports along the state’s rivers and the Gulf Coast should also be developed.