Election Day

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Expect long lines on Election Day

By Billy Davis
Panola County is poised to see a record-breaking number of voters on Election Day, smashing its record from four years ago.

“I think we could see 15,000-plus at the polls on Election Day,” said Ronald McMinn, who chairs the Panola County Election Commission.

The 2004 election fell on November 2, and 14,212 Panolians cast a ballot. Just over 20,000 voters are registered, so that turnout accounted for 70 percent of registered voters. It also marked the fourth highest turnout percentage in Mississippi, McMinn said.

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2004 marked a presidential election, which traditionally brings the highest voter turnout. The ballot also included a referendum on Tri-Lakes Medical Center and a referendum to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

The November 4 ballot will include the presidential race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, and other third-party candidates. While no referendums are on the ballot, voters will vote for U.S. senators and the U.S. representative for Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District.

Also on the ballot are a state supreme court race, a circuit court judge race, two election commission races and two North Panola school board races.

Panola County’s circuit clerk’s office recorded 2,292 new registered voters since January 1. A total of 1,371 Panolians registered from September 1 to the October 3 deadline, said a spokesman.

To ready for November 4, the election commission plans to place 121 voting machines at 24 voting precincts. Twenty of those machines are being rented and placed at the busiest precincts.

“We’ll have two poll books at the bigger precincts,” McMinn said.

Despite the extra help, some voters can expect long lines. To help keep the lines shorter, McMinn asked voters to help by visiting their precinct during “slack periods,” usually from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. until 4 p.m.

McMinn also said the election commission will hold “logic and accuracy” testing of the electronic voting machines on October 28, 29 and 30 at the county courthouse in Batesville.
The testing of the machines, and a public notice that they’re being examined, are required by law, he said.