Poll Worker picking

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 26, 2012

Poll worker  picking more muted this time

By Billy Davis

Panola County’s election commission on Thursday approved its list of poll workers for the November 6 election over a murmur of complaints from the public.

The non-partisan election commission announced its poll workers in five districts and 24 precincts in less than 30 minutes Thursday morning at the county courthouse in Batesville.

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Circuit Clerk Melissa Meek-Phelps said 26 members of the general public were in attendance when the meeting began.

The same public meeting last year dragged on for more than an hour when election commissioners and members of the public wrangled over names, mostly over poll workers at the Como Public Library.
Ronald McMinn, the outgoing commission chairman, was ready for the crowd this time. He explained that commissioners would read out their poll workers, then allow discussion, then vote.

McMinn also volunteered to go first with his District 5 poll workers. After McMinn rattled off his list, Calvin Land asked if each precinct will be equipped to handle turnout on Election Day.

The smallest precincts will employ five poll workers and the largest will employ seven, McMinn said.

After McMinn spoke, District 1 commissioner Dorothy Kerney Wilbourne read her list of poll workers, which includes the Como precinct.

“I thank our citizens for coming out,” she told the crowd, smiling. “It’s the responsibility of the election commission to select poll workers, not the audience.”

The list of poll workers for Como predictably drew complaints from the audience, but McMinn reminded the crowd that the 2011 election, which included the same poll workers, went smoothly.  

“There were no irregularities at Como last time,” McMinn said.

Wanda Lawrence Carmichael asked Wilbourne to re-read the list of Como poll workers, but she refused.

“I have read them,” she told Carmichael. “I’m the election commission.”
McMinn read the list aloud instead.

Phil Herron asked commissioners to make a motion to reject the list of Como poll workers, but that request was met with silence for several moments.  

The commission does not take motions from the floor, McMinn finally replied.

Some of the Como poll workers were in attendance at the public meeting.

Another topic raised was if the precincts have an appropriate number of black poll workers that mirror the community. Two-thirds of Como is black, said the poll worker.

There is no “percentage basis” based on race, McMinn replied, adding that his coaching background was similar to choosing poll workers.

“I pick the best one for the job,” he said.

McMinn noted that state law requires one person representing the Republican Party and one from the Democratic Party must be present at each precinct on Election Day.

Regarding political parties, McMinn told the crowd that Carmichael gave him a list of Republican names late Wednesday, suggesting the list came too late to be considered.   

Carmichael is running for election commissioner on November 6, seeking the District 4 post currently held by Jerry Perkins.

Other commissioners who submitted poll worker names were Julius Harris, District 2; Jimmy Herron, District 3, and Perkins.

The remaining commissioners read aloud their list with few comments from the public.