Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Warren voters set record for county

[11/3/04]Despite a steady drizzle that fell across most of the area all day Tuesday, Warren County voters turned out in record numbers to cast their ballots.

About 20,120 people, or about 58 percent of the names listed in local poll books, sign in and most voted for President Bush.

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That topped turnout in a 1996 special election for sheriff when 18,829 cast ballots.

Turnout in the 1990 vote over gambling was 15,358.

Despite the higher number of ballots cast, the percentage of registered voters who turned out Tuesday was still less than in 1996 or 2000 when 72 percent and 59 percent of registered voters respectively cast ballots.

Turnout was also higher in Claiborne County where 5,279 ballots were cast in the presidential race, about 726 more than four years ago, but in Sharkey and Issaquena counties numbers were down or nearly the same. About 2,668 ballots were cast in Sharkey County, about 112 fewer, and about 947 voted in Issaquena County, about 26 more than in 2000.

Perhaps surprisingly, it was not the state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage that brought voters out. In Warren County, about 1,599 fewer votes were cast for the amendment although the proposal was overwhelmingly supported by a margin of nearly 5-1. Voters also appeared to support the amendment regardless of party preference or whom they supported for president.

Overall, there were no surprises in Warren County’s final vote which closely mirrored four years ago. Bush won in the same 14 local precincts he took in 2000 and won the whole county by nearly the same margin.

Also, Claiborne, Sharkey and Issaquena counties went for the Democrat Sen. John Kerry with similar margins to four years ago.

Warren County voters also continued a trend of opposing U.S. District 2 Rep. Bennie Thompson, the Democrat from Bolton, giving nearly the same margin as four years ago to Republican Clinton LeSueur.

Few problems were reported throughout the 12 hours of voting in Warren County with a power failure early when polls opened creating the most trouble for precinct workers. At the Plumbers and Pipefitters precinct ballots had to cast in the dark for about an hour before being scanned by the electronic voting machines.

Returns were slower than usual due to a problem that required absentee ballots to be counted by hand in districts with contested school board races. Because the filing deadline for school board is only 30 days before the election, absentee ballots that can be scanned cannot be printed before absentee voting begins.

The deadline to qualify for most elected positions is 60 days before the date of the election. There were 1,594 ballots cast ahead of Tuesday’s voting, although not all of those were in districts with school board races.