By STEVEN NALLEY
Oktibbeha County Circuit Clerk Angie McGinnis said she expects a runoff in the county’s District 3 justice court judge race pending approval by the Statewide Election Management System.
Unofficial results for Tuesday’s election indicate Democrat James ‘Jim’ Mills received 1,237 votes — 49.60 percent — while Republican Buddy Johnston won 988 votes, and Randall McClelland received 268 votes. These results account for all ballots, including absentees and affidavits.
A county race can proceed a runoff when the leader does not have 50 percent of votes plus one vote, McGinnis said, and the District 3 justice court judge race meets that condition. While the runoff will not be official until SEMS approves Oktibbeha County’s results, she said, it would take place on Nov. 29.
McGinnis said the certification process could continue until Tuesday, because before SEMS certifies the election results, the county and all of its election commissioners must certify them. The process has become protracted, she said, primarily because votes for state representatives must be split up by district.
“We have four state house of representatives’ districts in Oktibbeha County and all four of them split up precincts,” McGinnis said. “Even though we have an electronic voting system, the Global Election Management System did not break those numbers out, so we’re having to do that ourselves to transfer it to the Statewide Election Management System. That’s just a time-consuming task.”
County officials have until 10 days after an election takes place to certify the results. With long ballots containing both state and county elections, McGinnis said, any county could need time to ensure results are accurate.
“I’m sure you’ll find quite a few counties that haven’t certified their results yet,” McGinnis said. “We have to be diligent in our work.”
McGinnis said poll workers also had to take extra time on election day at the National Guard Armory on Highway 12, the voting precinct for West Starkville.
“There was a line where they were voting, and that line did not finish voting until a quarter to 8 p.m.,” McGinnis said. “If you’ve got people that are in line at 7 p.m., they have a right to vote. The poll workers stayed there until the last person in line had voted. Then they completed all their paperwork. They had 109 absentee ballots they had to count.”
Myles Carpenter, county election commissioner, said the National Guard Armory was the only polling location with any parking issues, which were assuaged by opening up the parking lot in the former Templeton automobile dealership. He said there were nine voting machines at the armory and the West Starkville precinct took the most time to report results to the county. The South Starkville precinct took the second longest amount of time, he said, with 11 voting machines.
“We base the number of machines at each precinct on the number of votes at each precinct in the 2007 election,” Carpenter said. “If we were doing it again today, we might have put an extra machine or two at both of these places.”