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By BRIAN HAWKINS
Oktibbeha County voters will head to the polls today for a runoff election to choose a third judge for the 16th Circuit Court District.
On the ballot today is the runoff for the Place 3 Circuit Court judgeship between West Point attorneys Lee Coleman and Nebra Porter. Coleman and Porter were the top two vote-getters in the Nov. 2 general election, but neither won a majority of the votes to win the judgeâ€™s position outright, forcing todayâ€™s runoff.
The Place 3 judgeship is a new judgeâ€™s position created by the Mississippi Legislature in 2005. Voters in all precincts in Oktibbeha County can vote today as long as they were registered for the Nov. 2 general election.
The Courthouse Annex was bustling with activity Monday as Election Commission members worked with Circuit Clerk Angie McGinnis and her staff to wrap up final preparations for todayâ€™s runoff election.
McGinnis is predicting a low voter turnout in Oktibbeha County for the election â€” roughly 25 percent of the turnout for the Nov. 2 general election. About 46 percent of the countyâ€™s 24,792 registered voters went to the polls Nov. 2.
If McGinnisâ€™ prediction holds true, around 2,750 registered voters will head to the polls for todayâ€™s runoff.
â€śOf course, we hope to see even more than that. We want everyone to exercise their right to vote,â€ť McGinnis said.
What voters should know
McGinnis and Oktibbeha County Election Commission members say voters need to know several pieces of information before going to the polls on Tuesday, including the following:
â€˘ Because this is a not a primary election, voters will not have to declare a party affiliation when they go to the polls to vote.
Upon entering the polling place, voters will go to the table where poll workers will be waiting for them to sign the poll book and give them the appropriate ballot card for the touch-screen voting machine.
â€˘ Sample ballots will be posted at the polling places.
â€˘ Polling places open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
â€˘ If candidates plan to have poll watchers stationed at the polling places to watch voting, they must submit the appropriate forms to the Circuit Clerkâ€™s Office naming the poll watchers before the poll watchers go to the polling place.
â€˘ No political campaign materials are allowed to be worn, carried or distributed within 150 feet of any polling place, according to state law. Candidates who violate this regulation are subject to being fined.
Bailiffs stationed at each polling place will enforce that regulation, McGinnis said.
â€˘ Voters are reminded not to loiter in the polling place after casting their ballot, McGinnis said.
â€śWe ask that once they have cast their ballot, they exit the polling place to make room for other voters,â€ť McGinnis said. â€śThis will be very important in some wards where there is traditionally a higher turnout than others.â€ť
â€˘ If a resident registered to vote by mail and Tuesdayâ€™s runoff will be the first time they have voted since registering, he or she will be asked to show a valid identification when they arrive at the polling place before being allowed to vote.
This is required under the federal Help America Vote Act.
Valid forms of identification include a current and valid photo ID (i.e. a driverâ€™s license), a current utility bill with the voterâ€™s name and address, a bank statement with the voterâ€™s name and address, a government check with the voterâ€™s name and address, a pay check with the voterâ€™s name and address or any other government document that shows the voterâ€™s name and address.
â€˘ All ballots will be counted in the large courtroom at the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex after the polls close at 7 p.m.
â€˘ All vote totals released after the initial count Tuesday night are unofficial until the Oktibbeha County Election Commission certifies the results on Wednesday.
The certification process will include the counting of any affidavit ballots that are cast, McGinnis said.
Anyone with questions about the voting process can contact the Circuit Clerkâ€™s Office at 323-1356 beginning Monday.
Where to vote: The polling places
Oktibbeha Countyâ€™s polling places for todayâ€™s general election are listed below. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. A reminder to voters and candidates: No campaign materials may be brought inside or within 150 feet of any polling place under state law.
â€˘ West Starkville â€” National Guard Armory, Highway 12 West, Starkville.
â€˘ South Adaton â€” Adaton Baptist Church, 1975 Old Highway 82 West
â€˘ North Longview â€” Longview Fire Station, 2168 Highway 12 West.
â€˘ Self Creek/Double Springs â€” New fire station, 3407 U.S. 82 West, Maben.
â€˘ Osborn â€” 16th Section Road Fire Station, 1726 16th Section Road.
â€˘ Northeast Starkville â€” Humphrey Coliseum, Mississippi State University.
â€˘ North Starkville II â€” Boardtown Village, 905 N. Montgomery Street.
â€˘ Hickory Grove/Southeast Starkville â€” East Oktibbeha Fire Station, Highway 182 East.
â€˘ East Starkville â€” Humphrey Coliseum, Mississippi State University.
â€˘ North Starkville III â€” Starkville Fire Station No. 3, 102 W. Garrard Road at North Jackson Street.
â€˘ Bell Schoolhouse â€” Bell Schoolhouse Fire Station, 2221 Highway 389.
â€˘ Maben â€” Maben City Hall, 4026 2nd Ave., Maben.
â€˘ Center Grove/North Adaton â€” Adaton Fire Station, 2237 Reed Road.
â€˘ South Starkville â€” Starkville Sportsplex, 405 Lynn Lane.
â€˘ South Longview â€” Longview Fire Station, 2168 Highway 12 West.
â€˘ Craig Springs/South Bradley â€” Craig Springs Fire Station, 2199 Craig Springs Road, Sturgis.
â€˘ Sturgis/North Bradley â€” Sturgis Fire Station, 2729 Montgomery St., Sturgis.
â€˘ Central Starkville â€” Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex, 108 W. Main St.
â€˘ Gillespie Street â€” Gillespie Street Center, 610 E. Gillespie St.
â€˘ Sessums â€” Sessums Fire Station, 3100 Turkey Creek Road.
â€˘ Oktoc â€” Oktoc Fire Station, Oktoc Road just south of the Oktoc Community Center.