Oktibbeha results expected today, Chancery District 14-1 race too close to call


Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk Tony Rook said election officials expect to have all of the remaining ballots counted by Thursday evening.

By: 
RYAN PHILLIPS
SDN Editor

Late into the evening hours Wednesday, election officials in Oktibbeha County continued to sort and count through hundreds of absentee and affidavit ballots that will influence the outcome of a tight race for one chancery judge seat.

The total number of absentee ballots was 1,152 after all precincts in Oktibbeha County reported on Tuesday night, with 543 paper affidavit ballots also left to sort. 

Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk Tony Rook said election officials expect to have all of the remaining ballots counted by Thursday evening. 

Rook attributed the slower pace to the high number of paper affidavit ballots. 

“(Affidavits) have slowed down the certification process,” he said. “We know this is time-consuming, but it’s too important to be rushed.”

Rook then explained the speed of the process, saying in a best-case scenario, election commissioners can process approximately 20 paper affidavit ballots an hour. 

What’s more, with such a high voter turnout, county officials had to make copies of affidavit ballots to re-supply precincts when they ran out. 

“For security reasons, the copies can’t be counted on an optical scanner,” Rook explained. “They can only be tabulated by hand.” 

County election officials say the turnout was historic, though, and expected to be well over 50 percent for Oktibbeha County, which led to the slow and tedious process of verifying each of the paper ballots.

“The ladies in the office who have been doing this for more than 10 years say they’ve never been this busy,” Rook commented.

While results from Oktibbeha likely won’t impact the outcomes of many races that have already been decided, the most recent numbers show a three-candidate race for the Chancery Court Judge District 14, Place 1 seat, between Elizabeth Ausbern, Rodney Faver, and Lee Ann Turner, who received the highest vote totals on Tuesday.

Chancery Judge District 14-1 Votes Percentage
Elizabeth Ausbern

4,703

27.26%
Gene Barton

2,686

16%
R. Todd Bennett

713

4%
Rodney Faver

4,648

26.94%
Lee Ann Turner 

4,500

26%

Vote totals as of Thursday morning include all precincts in Oktibbeha, but excludes absentee and affidavit ballots. Also outstanding are roughly 60 affidavit ballots in Webster County and eight affidavit ballots in Chickasaw County. Absentee ballots from both Chickasaw and Webster are included in the totals. 

In the future, Rook recommends voters make sure their address is updated with the circuit clerk’s office, to avoid increased numbers of affidavit ballots being cast as a result of confusion. 

“This would greatly reduce the number of affidavit ballots, to make sure people update their address,” Rook said. “It’s a common reason why there are so many affidavits.” 

For the final tally on this chancery court race and for final totals from Oktibbeha County, check starkvilledailynews.com or follow the SDN on Facebook and Twitter on Thursday. 

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