Closed primary meets with resistance

Published 3:09 pm Thursday, August 9, 2007

The recent election was less than popular with some voters as they were forced to side with only one party, eliminating their options on the ballot. In a closed primary, used in Mississippi and other state primary elections, voters are required to pick a party and are only allowed to vote for candidates in that party. In the general election, voters can pick any candidate from any party.

While the election went well for the candidates who won or moved on to the run off, some voters did not agree with picking a party in order to vote. Poll worker Mary Ellen Ladner said she received many complaints from voters concerning picking a party. Four or five voters were so offended by having to pick a party, which would eliminate potential candidates from their ballot, that they walked out without voting, she said.

Another poll worker, Heidi Barrett, said she also had a voter walk out without voting due to the primary being closed. Barrett said about 10 percent of the voters who came into her precinct complained about having to pick a party. Ladner said nearly every voter who came into her precinct complained. Poll worker Julie Thompson said out of the near 500 voters who came through her precinct nearly 200 complained about the primary being closed. First time voter and poll worker Kevin Burr said he also saw a voter walk out of his precinct without voting for the same reason.

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The reasons some voters were unhappy with the closed primary was because they were still not sure who they wanted to vote for. By having to pick a party their options were limited, Barrett said.

Burr said he also did not personally agree with picking a party in order to vote.

“I didn’t get to vote for who I wanted to vote for,” Burr said.

He said he voted primarily Republican but wanted to vote Democratic for some offices. Since the state of Mississippi utilizes the closed primary system he was not afforded that option.

Overall Burr said he had a good first experience voting in the primary election, but did notice the voting process could be changed.

“I also wish more young people would get involved in the election process,” Burr said. “That could possibly bring change.”

The run off election later this month will cover several offices.

Run off candidates for Sheriff in the Democratic party are Dan C. McNeill and Rodney Spears. Republican Sheriff run off candidates are David Allison and Jim Luke.

Supervisor District II Democrat run off candidates are Josey Tynes and Kevin Odom. Republican run off candidates for District II supervisor are Charles Culpepper and Daryl Smith.

Supervisor District III Republican run off candidates are Hudson Holliday and incumbent Larry Davis.

Supervisor District IV Democrat runoff candidates are Huey Smith and Woopie Kellar. Republican candidates for Supervisor District IV are Patrick Lee incumbent Robert Thigpen.

Supervisor District V Republican run off candidates are incumbent Bettye Stockstill and Sandy Smith.

Coroner runoff Republican candidates are Lisa Roche Sanders and Derek Turnage.

Circuit Clerk Vickie Hariel said voters who voted in the primary will have to vote under the same party in the run off as they did in for the primary. The general election will be open.

If voters did not vote in the primary they can vote in the run off, Hariel said.

• An error in Wednesday’s edition stated the run off election would be in two weeks. The correct date of the run off is Aug. 28..

Another stated that all Constables are running unopposed. Incumbent Ray M. Bennett (R) is opposed by Zeb Miley (D) for South East District Constable in the general election set for November.