Election officials were busy with absentee ballots on Friday ahead of Memorial Day weekend and the last weekend of early voting ahead of the May 30 special election.

Starkville City Clerk Lesa Hardin said the total number of absentee votes had risen to 201, up from Monday's reported count of 118.

Lesa Hardin mug

Starkville City Clerk Lesa Hardin

There are 14,766 registered voters in the city of Starkville. In Ward 5, 1,977 registered voters will elect a new alderman next week.

The last day for in-person voting ahead of the special election is May 28 while the deadline for mail-in ballots is May 29.

Voters must bring a valid photo ID before an absentee ballot can be cast.

Starkville City Hall will be open today from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. for voters wishing to cast their ballot early.

The Starkville Daily News ran sample ballots in Sunday's edition and will do so again on Sunday, May 26 and Thursday, May 30.

Voters will also decide on a proposed increase to the city's hotel, restaurant, and beverage tax. Revenue from the tax increase will help fund the construction and maintenance of Cornerstone Park.

Voters in Ward 5 will also vote in the non-partisan race for the open alderman seat. The race features Hamp Beatty, Kayla Gilmore and John Michael VanHorn.

The Starkville Daily News will run a question and answer series from each of the candidates in the Sunday, May 26 edition.

Polls will open at 7 a.m. on May 30.

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