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Voters make two selections in judge race

As absentee voting picks up, Lincoln County election officialsare reminding citizens of a unique voting situation involving the14th District Circuit Court Judge race.

In that race, incumbent Judges Keith Starrett and Mike Smithface challenges from attorneys Charles Miller and Jack Price.Voters may vote for one or two of the four candidates, and CircuitClerk Terry Case Watkins said that has resulted in someconfusion.

“That’s the only race where they can vote for two people,”Watkins said.

The ballot instructs voters to select one or two of thecandidates. If a person votes for only one candidate, Watkins saidtheir vote will count; however, she is encouraging people to makeuse of the second vote.

“We have two judges, and you should vote for two people,”Watkins said.

The judge’s race is one of several contested races on theTuesday, Nov. 5, ballot.

Perhaps the most closely-watched contest will be for ThirdDistrict U.S. Representative where Democrat Ronnie Shows is facingRepublican Chip Pickering.

The incumbent office-holders, Pickering in the Third Districtand Shows in the Fourth District, were put in a newly-drawn ThirdDistrict following the 2000 census and Mississippi losing one ofits five U.S. representatives. Other candidates listed on theballot include independents Harvey L. Darden and Jim Giles, CarrollGrantham of the Reform Party and Libertarian Brad McDonald.

In the U.S. Senate race, Republican U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran isfacing Shawn O’Hara of the Reform Party. Democrats did not field acandidate in the contest.

On the state level, the race for Mississippi Supreme Court Judgeis generating a lot of interest. In that contest, incumbent ChuckMcRae is facing a challenge from attorney Jess Dickinson andchancery judge Larry Buffington.

Court of Appeal Judge Joe Lee and Ed Patten, chancery courtjudge for Lincoln and Copiah counties, are unopposed in theirrespective races.

On a related note, voters will vote on a proposed constitutionalamendment whether to increase judges’ terms from four years to sixyears.

The only other contested race on the Lincoln County ballot willbe in District 4-West Lincoln for a spot on the Lincoln CountySchool District Board of Trustees. Incumbent James Keen is facingSteve Rushing in that race.

Joann Holmes, school board trustee for District 3-Bogue Chitto,is unopposed in her race. In special elections coinciding with thegeneral election, District Attorney Danny Smith, Coroner ClayMcMorris and District 3 Election Commissioner Floye McClelland areall unopposed.

Watkins said absentee voting in the Nov. 5 election hasbegun.

“We’ve had over 100 people so far,” Watkins said. “That’s peoplewho have come into the office to vote and ballots that we’ve mailedout.”

Watkins said her office will be open Saturdays, Oct. 26 and Nov.2, from 8 a.m. until noon for absentee voting. Saturday, Nov. 2, atnoon is the last day to vote absentee in the circuit clerk’soffice.

“If you’re going to be out of town (on election day) and cancome in to the office, go ahead and come in,” Watkins said.

For those needing absentee ballots mailed to them, Watkinsencouraged them to make the request as soon as possible so that theballot can be mailed and returned before the deadline. The deadlinefor receiving absentee ballots in the mail is 5 p.m. Monday, Nov.4.

Polls will be open Tuesday, Nov. 5, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.Watkins was hoping for a good voter turnout that day.

“We’re encouraging every registered voter to get out and vote,”she said.