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Clerk: Little interest in June primary

If you want to perform your civic duty by voting in the June 1primary election, you’ve only got 34 days to wait.

If you don’t want to vote in the primary election, don’t feel bad.Apparently no one else wants to either.

Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins is predicting adismally low turnout for the opening election of the 2010 cycle,which begins in five weeks with an all-Democrat primary on June 1.Even though the election is approaching fast, Watkins said heroffice hasn’t received any requests for absentee ballots and hasregistered no more new voters than would be registered in a normalyear.

“There’s just not much interest,” Watkins said. “We’ve had very fewregistrations, I would say less than 100 since the beginning of theyear. I hate it for Lincoln County. We’ve got a budget crunchacross the state and now we’ve got to pay for an election that willhave a low turnout.”

Watkins said the main reason little fanfare is surrounding theelection is basically because there are no interesting races on theprimary ballot.

Republican Gregg Harper, the U.S. representative for the 3rdCongressional District, is unopposed within his party, and theDemocrat ticket contains a pair of perennial challengers whoconsistently appear in the running for various offices and haveridden the ballot to defeat.

The three Democrats who have qualified for the race are Joel Gillof Pickens, James D. Jackson of Brandon and Shawn O’Hara ofHattiesburg. A runoff election for the party’s nomination, ifnecessary, will be held June 22.

“I don’t think we have a serious candidate there, and that’s justnot going to bring people out to vote,” Watkins said. “Mr. O’Haraand Mr. Gill have put their names on the ballot a number of times,and I’m not sure they’re serious about their intentions. Because ofthat, I don’t think anyone else is taking them seriously.”

Regardless of the ho-hum attitude heading into the primaryelection, the circuit clerk’s office will remain open until noonSaturday to allow would-be voters a last opportunity to register.Mississippi voters must be registered 30 days prior to the electionthey plan to vote in, and Saturday is the end of that window.

The ballot for the general election on Nov. 2 is expected to drawmore voters to the polls with its local and area races.

The District Four seat in the Lincoln County School District willappear on the Nov. 2 ballot. Qualifying for the seat, currentlyheld by Michael Posey, begins on Aug. 4 and ends Sept. 3.

For the 3d Congressional District, Florence’s Doyle Trent, runningwith the America First Party, and Hattiesburg’s Tracella Lou O’HaraHill of the Reform Party, will appear on the ballot this fall tochallenge Harper and whoever advances from the Democraticprimary.

Potential judicial candidates still have until May 7 to qualify,but so far the judges Lincoln County is accustomed to are the onlyones working to preside over the local courts. According to theSecretary of State’s Office, Judge Ed Patten is the lone candidatewho has turned in his paperwork to compete for his spot in theMississippi 15th Chancery District, while judges Mike Taylor andDavid Strong are the only qualifiers for the two places in theMississippi 14th Circuit District.

The situation is the same for the Mississippi Court of Appeals,where judge Joseph Lee of Jackson is the only qualifier for thecourt’s District Four, which covers most of SouthwestMississippi.