Party leaders gearing up for Tues. primaries

Published 5:00 am Monday, March 10, 2008

With the primary elections occurring Tuesday, the Democratic andRepublican parties of Lincoln County have been hard at workpreparing the county’s 32 precincts for action.

Both parties reported no problems for the week, saying that allthe ballots, voting machines and personnel are in place andready.

“I think everything is pretty much OK,” said Lincoln CountyDemocratic Executive Committee Chairwoman Helen Funk. “As far as Iknow, everything is set.”

Lincoln County Republican Executive Committee Chairman ChuckNelms also said he and his party were prepared for the election. Noproblems with ballots, machines or personnel occurred during theweek, and Nelms said he will distribute ballots and make the finalpreparations Monday.

Three offices will be listed on the party ballots Tuesday. Notonly will voters cast their lots in favor of a presidentialcandidate, but a seat in the U.S. Senate, currently held by ThadCochran; and a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, held byThird Congressional District Rep. Chip Pickering, will also be putto a vote. Pickering is not seeking re-election.

Incumbent Cochran is the lone choice on the Republican ticketfor a seat in the Senate. He will face one of two Democraticcontenders, Eric Fleming or Shawn O’Hara, who are vying for theparty’s nomination.

For the House seat, Democratic voters will choose between JoelGill and Randy Eads to face, eventually, one of seven candidates onthe Republican side – James Broadwater, Gregg Harper, GregoryHatcher, David Landrum, Billy Marcy, Charlie Ross and JohnRounsaville. If no GOP winner is determined Tuesday, a runoff willbe held on April 1.

Voters should pay close attention to where they make their marksTuesday.

Some candidates’ names – from both parties – will appear on theballots even though they have already retired from the race. Theballots were required to be prepared well in advance of theelection.

Funk expects voter turnout to be high Tuesday, as politics onthe national scene have made Mississippi’s primary, which is latein the year compared with other states, gain more importance in2008.

“Because of the presidential Democratic race, more people maycome out to vote this year,” Funk said. “By this time every yearpreviously, the race has already been decided.

“This year, it’s so close that it may bring more voters out,”she continued. “Everybody needs to get out and exercise their rightto vote and be a part of the process.”

To get ready for the expected turnout, Funk spent the weekoverseeing the readying of the polling places, installing machinesand training poll workers. She said the instructions were passed onsmoothly, as most of the poll workers for this year’s elections areveterans of the process.

“Most of them have worked before – they’ve been through theroutine,” Funk said.

Funk identified three types of poll workers and the duties theyoversee.

The precinct clerks will be responsible for checking names andmanning the tablets. The voting machine managers will oversee themachines and distribute and secure the ballots.

Each precinct will also have a bailiff in place to handle”anything that comes up out of the ordinary.”

Funk ensured that all the workers were trained according tostate election laws, which mandates that each polling place havethree workers on duty. Funk, however, has taken extraprecautions.

“The minimum is three to each precinct, but I have more thanthat, especially at the larger precincts,” she said. “I don’t haveany that have just three. Some have four and five, and a few of thebigger precincts will have six poll workers on duty.”