At wire, Obama confident, McCain seeks upset|’A lot of interest’ seen in Warren

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 2, 2008

A “higher than average” number of Warren County voters took time out of their Saturday morning to meet the deadline for absentee voting, said Circuit Clerk Shelly Ashley-Palmertree.

A total of 169 residents cast absentee ballots on the deadline day, bringing the total number of those to cast ballots early to about 1,969, estimated Ashley-Palmertree.

Voting day

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Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“I think it’s just the type of election this year; it’s just sparking a lot of interest,” Ashley-Palmertree said of the turnout. “Presidential elections always draw more people, and this year was higher than average.” 

In the 2004 election, about 1,500 voters cast absentee ballots, and 1,400 such ballots were cast in 2000 in the county. The absentee ballots cast this year came from a wide variety of residents, said Ashley-Palmertree, everyone from students to those leaving town on vacation or business.

Warren County has 36,957 voters, up 3 percent since the March primary and 6 percent over 2004. Claiborne County rolls show 8,361, Sharkey 4,680 and Issaquena 1,646.

About 56.8 percent of Warren County’s electorate cast ballots in the 2004 election cycle, just less than the 58 percent nationally. Statewide, a little more than 1.1 million voted four years ago. Voter rolls in Mississippi stand at 1,893,786. Of the state’s 20,000 new registrants recorded since mid-October, about two-thirds were in Hinds, Harrison and DeSoto counties. For the year, 189,817 new voters have registered, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

Other federal races in Warren County include candidates for both U.S. Senate seats and the 2nd District race in the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, a Republican, is opposed by Democrat and former state Rep. Erik Fleming. Sen. Roger Wicker, a Republican, is opposed by Democrat and former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove in a special election to fill the unexpired term of former Sen. Trent Lott. Party affiliations of Wicker and Musgrove will not be on the ballot.

In the House race, U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat, is opposed by Jackson teacher Richard Cook, a Republican.

Judicial races include the District 1 Position 3 post on the Mississippi Supreme Court and District 2 Position 2 on the state Court of Appeals.

Incumbent and Chief Justice Jim Smith is opposed by Crystal Springs attorney Jim Kitchens and former Chancery Court Judge Ceola James of Vicksburg. Incumbent Leslie D. King is unopposed for the appellate post.

Local elections will include seats representing Districts 3 and 4 on the Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees and five spots on the Warren County Election Commission.

For school trustee from District 3, incumbent Betty Tolliver is challenged by former bank executive Jim Stirgus Jr. In District 4, the candidates are former Vicksburg mayor Joe Loviza, substitute teacher Katrina Johnson and land surveyor Kimble Slaton.

Four are unopposed for spots on the election board, including former county supervisor Patricia “Petesy” Smith in District 1 and incumbents Retha L. Summers in District 2, John Rundell in District 4 and Gordon Carr in District 5. No candidate qualified in District 3.

In Issaquena, Sharkey and Claiborne, voters will make choices in the federal and judicial races, plus local races for coroner, school board and election commission.

Larry Clegg and Angela Williams, both independents, are vying for coroner in a special election to fill the final three years of former Issaquena coroner Sissy Boyd, who resigned in July. All candidates for election commissioner posts are unopposed, Jimmy C. Newman, Dale Heigle, Annie B. Johnson, Connie McQuary and Reid Monteith.

In Sharkey County, Melvin S. Young is unopposed for a seat on the school board in District 2. Kelly Perry, D.W. Johnson, Catherine B. Norris, Paul A. Alford and Mary Frances Smith are all unopposed for the election commission.

In Claiborne County, Josie McClorine is unopposed for a seat on the school board in District 5. Eddie Kinnard Sr., James Gray, Gary Knight, Johnny Hughes and Corey Johnson are all unopposed for the election commission.