Election pace quickens as date nears

From left, Clay County Election Commissioners Tommy Bryan, Linda Ivy, Hubert Caston, Mae Brewer and Sawana Walker check voting machines as part of their preparations for next week’s election.
Staff Writer

With less than a week remaining before voters go to the polls, election officials are going through final preparations for what most say will be at best a “modest” turnout.

The estimate comes even as voters in Clay County and the Golden Triangle will elect three new Chancery Court judges and two U.S. Senate races are beginning to heat up.

“Judges races haven’t really ignited the interest yet. It’s picking up, but it’s not like a full local election or a presidential election,” Clay County Circuit Court Clerk Bob Harrell said Tuesday as he and the Clay County Election Commission double-checked voting machines and purged inactive voters before the election.

If absentee voting is any indication of turnout, next week’s totals likely will be higher than four years ago when state senator and Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel ran a bitter campaign against then-incumbent Republican Thad Cochran. That race attracted 452 absentee voters.

The county passed that number Wednesday morning with absentee voting continuing through Saturday and a number of absentee-by-mail ballots still out.

But the numbers likely will finish below 2016 and 2015. In the 2016 presidential election, 1,124 absentee ballots were cast. In the primaries for the local office elections in 2015, 852 people voted absentee.

Absentee voting continues in the Circuit Court clerk’s office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday. By-mail ballots must be received by 5 p.m. Monday to be counted.
This year, voters have more contested decisions to make with three judgeships, two U.S. Senate seats, and a U.S. House race.
Clay County currently has 13,694 registered voters in 13 precincts.

Not surprisingly, the largest precincts are in and around West Point. The largest is West-West Point with 1,861 registered voters. North West Point has 1,802, East-West Point has 1,769, South-West Point has 1,625 and Central-West Point 1,118.
The largest precinct outside the city is Siloam with 1,066 registered voters.
With 393 voters, Tibbee is the smallest precinct with Cairo not far behind at 424.

Clay County voters will cast ballots in two contested U.S. Senate races, the First District congressional race and two different Chancery Court districts, depending on where the voter lives.

Three unopposed incumbent Circuit Court judges also will be on the ballot as will two unopposed incumbent members of the West Point Consolidated School District board.
For election information, contact the Circuit Court Clerk's office at 662-494-8228.