Meridian Star

Local News

June 20, 2014

Four days to election day

MERIDIAN —     A hard fought campaign for one of Mississippi's Senate seats is not losing any momentum as the primary runoff election day nears.

    Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel is hoping to unseat longterm Sen. Thad Cochran in the Republican Party runoff next Tuesday. Cochran was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978.

    Neither Cochran nor McDaniel won a majority in the June 3 primary as a third candidate, Thomas Carey, garnered just less than 2 percent of the vote.

    The Democrats will not have a runoff because Travis Childers received a majority in the primary. However, there will be a runoff between Democrats for the Third Congressional District, which is currently held by Rep. Gregg Harper (R). Harper defeated challenger Hardy Caraway in the June 3 primary.

    Two Democratic candidates will square off for the Third District seat in the runoff: Douglas MacArthur Magee and Dennis C. Quinn. The winner will face Harper in the November general election, as well as Roger Gerrard, an independent, and Reform Party candidate Barbara Dale Washer.

    Donna Jill Johnson, Lauderdale County Circuit Clerk, said people still have a lot of questions about the election; the most frequently asked is "If I did not vote in the primary election, am I allowed to vote on the 24th?" "Yes," Johnson said. Those who did not vote in the primary can still vote in the runoff, or second primary as it is actually called, she said. Voters who did not vote in the primary will declare either for the Democratic party or for the Republican party.

    However, those who did vote in the primary may not switch parties in the runoff, she said.

    "In Mississippi you are not registered by party. When you go to your precinct on election day, your name is printed on the Democrat book and your name is printed on the Republican book," Johnson said earlier this week when addressing the Meridian Optimist Club. "You go to the table of your choice to vote in that primary ballot election. If you voted June 3 as a Democrat; you have to vote Democrat on the 24th. If you voted Republican on the third; you have to vote Republican on the 24th."

    Johnson said poll workers are trained to be on the lookout for that.

    Absentee voting is under way for the runoff, she said. Many voters have already voted absentee due to mostly vacation, military deployment , working during the polling hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., conference schedules, etc

    "We do not have early voting in Mississippi as they do have in some other states. We have absentee voting. You have to have a legal reason to vote absentee," Johnson said.

    Her office is open today through 5 p.m. and will be open Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon to accommodate those unable to vote during regular business hours, she said.

    Johnson said voters who cast an affidavit ballot on June 3 will have to do the same in the runoff election.

    The June 3 primary was the first time that voter ID was required in Mississippi. Johnson said it went well and only one person had to vote affidavit because of not having a photo ID. The voter had left his wallet at home. State officials made provisions last year for voters who had no photo ID to have one made at no cost. That job went to local circuit clerk's offices.

    "We have issued probably less than 10 in the office. We knew from the beginning that it was not going to be a big deal because in notarizing things — I have noticed that in my 23 years (as circuit clerk) I have turned back less than 10 people that did not have a picture ID," Johnson said.

    Acceptable forms of photo ID for voters include:

    Driver's license;

    Photo ID card issued by a branch, department or entity of the State of Mississippi;

    U.S. passport;

    Government employee ID card;

    Firearms license,

    Student photo ID issued by an accredited Mississippi university, college, or community/junior college;

    U.S. military ID;

    Tribal photo ID;

    Any other photo ID issued by any branch, department, agency or entity of the U.S. government or any state government; or,

Mississippi Voter ID card.

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