Early voting ‘running slow’ across the city

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Scant turnout was reported this morning in Democratic primary voting, the first step in Vicksburg’s mayoral election.

“It’s running slow so far,” said Marilyn Patterson, manager of the American Legion Post 3 precinct on Monroe Street. “We usually have a crowd of people who come before they go to work, but not this year.”

Voting today

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Polls in Vicksburg will remain open until 7 tonight.

Just seven ballots had been cast at the American Legion precinct in the first half hour after polls opened at 7 a.m. At Porters Chapel United Methodist Church, 10 people had voted by 8 a.m. At the Elks Lodge precinct on U.S. 61 South, four people cast primary ballots in the first 30 minutes. Similar numbers were reported at the Cedar Grove, Vicksburg Junior High School and City Auditorium precincts.

“It’s very light,” said Carla Jones, precinct manager at the City Auditorium. “We’re used to a crowd.”

The highest number of early voters was reported at the No. 7 Fire Station on Washington Street, where 19 votes had been cast by 8:15 a.m. Polls at 10 precincts in the city will remain open until 7 p.m, and results will be available on the city’s cable channel, TV23. The chance of a scattered shower passing over Vicksburg increases to 30 percent this afternoon and evening, but many precinct managers said they thought voting would pick up as the day went on.

“Based on the large turnout we had for the (presidential) election last fall, I feel like people are still going to be excited about getting out and voting,” said Lisa Kemp, manager of the Kings Gym precinct.

Vying for the nomination are defense contractor and NAACP Vicksburg Chapter president John Shorter, attorney Paul Winfield, business owner Tommy Wright and Gertrude Young, a real estate agent and former North Ward alderman. If none of the candidates receives 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held May 19. The Democratic nominee will face Mayor Laurence Leyens, who is seeking a third term as an independent, in the June 2 general election.

Of those who did show up to vote early on Tuesday, many cited civic duty over issues addressed by the candidates thus far.

“It’s just part of my life — it’s like going to church for me,” said Hoover Younger, who was the first to vote at the Kings Gym.  

A total of 4,298 votes were cast in the mayoral primary four years ago — 23 percent of the names listed on poll books and the lowest for a primary race in a decade. Four years ago, both incumbent aldermen faced opposition. This year, North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield and South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman are unopposed, which might push interest down.

Vicksburg voter rolls show 18,480 names for this year’s municipal election, up 100 since 2005 according to the city clerk’s office. Most of the net increase came in the South Ward, which has 8,882 voters, up 325 since the last city election cycle. The North Ward has 9,598 voters, but has 225 fewer compared to four years ago.

Different precincts are used, making exact comparisons impossible, but in all of Warren County, almost 20,000 people cast ballots in the November presidential election.


Contact Steve Sanoski at ssanoski@vicksburgpost.com