Final preparations nearly complete for election

The Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex was bustling with activity Friday as Election Commission members worked with Circuit Clerk Angie McGinnis and her staff to wrap up final preparations for Tuesday’s general election.
Looking ahead to Tuesday, McGinnis is predicting a voter turnout between 45 to 48 percent in Oktibbeha County for the election.
McGinnis said she is basing her prediction on the more than 450 absentee ballots that had been cast as of Friday afternoon and upon the between 30 and 35 percent voter turnout in the 2006 election.
“We didn’t have the third judge’s race four years ago, so I think that will help draw people out,” said McGinnis on Friday.
Oktibbeha County currently has 24,792 active registered voters. If McGinnis’ prediction holds true, between 11,100 and 11,900 registered voters will go to the polls in Oktibbeha County on Tuesday.
“Of course, we hope to see even more than that. We want everyone to exercise their right to vote,” McGinnis said.

Who’s on the ballot

On the ballot locally for the general election are the following races (some races may not appear on all ballots):
U.S. House of
Third Congressional District
• Joel L. Gill, Democrat
• Gregg Harper, Republican
• Tracella L.O. Hill, Reform
Chancery Court Judge
14th Chancery District
Place 1
• Kenneth M. Burns
Place 3
• Dorothy W. Colom
Circuit Court Judge
16th Circuit District
Place 1
• James T. “Jim” Kitchens
• William Starks
Place 2
• Lee J. Howard
Place 3
• Lee S. Coleman
• Bob Marshall
• Nebra Porter
Oktibbeha County School District
Board of Trustees
District 2 Seat
• Curtis Snell
• Marvin L. Williams
At-Large Seat
• Melvin Harris
• Yvette Rice

Things voters need to know before Tuesday

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 election 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, said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.
“Currently, Mississippi does not have a state voter identification requirement, but we do have a federal law we must follow,” says Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. “We do not want anyone to be surprised on Tuesday when they go to cast their ballot and question why they have to show an ID.”
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.
“If a voter is required to show their identification at the polls under federal law, we want to make sure they are prepared and bring the proper document to cast their ballot,” Hosemann said. 
• All ballots will be counted in the large courtroom at the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex after the polls close at 7 p.m. A formal public test of the counting machine took place this past Thursday.
• 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 voting process can contact the Circuit Clerk’s Office at 323-1356 beginning Monday.