By BRIAN HAWKINS
Mike Tagert of Starkville will face John M.M. Caldwell Sr. today in a runoff special election for Northern District transportation commissioner.
Caldwell, transportation director for the DeSoto County School District, and Tagert, president of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway Development Council, were the top two finishers in a seven-candidate field in the Jan. 11 special election held to determine the successor to Bill Minor of Holly Springs, who held the transportation commissioner’s job for almost two terms until his death Nov. 1.
The three-member Mississippi Transportation Commission oversees one of the largest agencies in state government, with responsibility over the state’s transportation infrastructure, including highways, bridges, ports and airports.
As of midday Monday, at least 149 absentee ballots had already been cast, Circuit Clerk’s Office staff members said.
What voters should know
Circuit Clerk Angie McGinnis and Oktibbeha County Election Commission members say voters need to know several pieces of information before going to the polls on Tuesday, including the following:
• 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.
“We ask that once they have cast their ballot, they exit the polling place to make room for other voters,” McGinnis said. “This will be very important in some wards where there is traditionally a higher turnout than others.”
• 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.
• Votes will be counted 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. The certification process will include the counting of any affidavit ballots that are cast, McGinnis said.
Anyone with questions about the voting process can contact the Circuit Clerk’s Office at 323-1356 beginning Monday.
Where to vote: Oktibbeha County's polling places
The following are Oktibbeha County’s polling places for today’s election:
• 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.