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Only about six percent of voters turnout in county

With no local elections on the ballot and voting limited to people who voted Democrat earlier this month or didn’t vote at all, turnout in Tuesday’s Democratic Senate primary runoff was dismally low in Warren County and throughout the state.

Bay St. Louis state representative David Baria defeated venture capitalist Howard Sherman of Meridian for the right to face incumbent Republican Senator Roger Wicker in November. Wicker easily defeated his lone challenger June 6 and has represented Mississippi in the Senate since 2007.

Baria and Sherman faced off in Tuesday’s runoff after being the top two vote getters in the June 6 primary where no candidate in a crowded field received 50 percent of the vote. Sherman was the top vote getter the first time around, but Baria easily defeated him Tuesday with 59 percent of the vote.

In Warren County, Baria made big gains after finishing third June 6 to win the county over Sherman 871 to 548. Tuesday’s election was not open to the 2,158 people who voted Republican June 6, but of the remaining 23,529 people who were eligible to vote, only 1,412 or 6 percent of the voters turned out.

Warren County Election Commissioner Sarah Dionne estimated that Tuesday’s election cost “in the neighborhood of $50,000” to operate because even with the low turnout they had to open and operate all 23 precincts in the county.

“It is a very sad situation,” Dionne said of the turnout. “It is an indication of our voter apathy that on these important election where we are electing our representative to make federal law and we have a 5 percent turnout.

“It is even lower than I expected. I was expecting about half of last time and this is even below that.”

The June 6 election, which was open to all voters in Warren County, saw less than 4,000 people cast a ballot for a turnout of 15.24 percent.

The low turnout numbers were a theme throughout the state, and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said although this is a party run election and not a state run one, he was still concerned by the lack of turnout.

“I have been opposed to the state running the party primaries,” Hosemann said. “The impetus for voters to cast a ballot for their candidates and to invigorate the population to go cast a ballot, that falls squarely on the parties and their candidates. That being said, I was disappointed in the turnout. I was hoping that it would be more than 5 percent of the people in the state.”

Hosemann added they have already began meeting about how to improve the turnout in November when both Mississippi Senate seats will be voted on following Thad Cochran’s retirement earlier this year.

“We use public service announcements to do that. We have Brett Farve, Malcolm Butler, Morgan Freeman,” Hosemann said. “We are trying to touch people with public service announcements to remind them to cast their ballot. We are hopeful you will see us reinvigorate people to cast a ballot.”