House races confusing some voters

Editor’s note: As part of ongoing coverage leading up to next week’s general election, the Starkville Daily News will be publishing copies of sample ballots for various voting precincts in Oktibbeha County. There are five different ballot styles. Two are published in today’s edition on Page A-6.

As preparations continue for next week’s general election, Circuit Clerk Angie McGinnis said she is continuing to see confusion among local voters about the race for U.S. House of Representatives on the ballot in Oktibbeha County.
Election officials have learned of the voter confusion over the last couple of weeks as absentee voting for the general election — set for this coming Tuesday — has been taking place, McGinnis said.
Oktibbeha County is located within Mississippi’s Third Congressional District, and voters will choose from among Joel Gill (Democrat), incumbent Gregg Harper (Republican) and Tracella Lou O’Hara Hill (Reform Party) when they cast their ballots next week or when voting absentee.
But since the majority of the surrounding counties — including Clay, Webster and Lowndes counties — are located within the state’s First Congressional District, many local television stations have been airing commercials promoting that race between incumbent Travis Childers (Democrat) and Alan Nunnelee (Republican), McGinnis said.
The Third District race has seen virtually no campaign advertising, so voters have become confused about the race in which they vote, McGinnis said.
“Travis Childers and Alan Nunnelee are not on the ballot in Oktibbeha County,” McGinnis said.
“People have been seeing all their advertising on television and think they vote in the First Congressional District. They do not.
“Some have been quite angry to find out they can’t vote in that race,” McGinnis said.
In addition to the Third District U.S. House race, Oktibbeha County voters will also vote for Chancery Court judge (one of two races, according to where the voter lives), Circuit Court judge (three races), Oktibbeha County School District Board of Trustees (one of two races, according to where the voters lives)
Here’s a breakdown of the candidates in each race on the general election ballot in Oktibbeha County (some races may not appear on all ballots:
U.S. House of
Third Congressional District
• Joel L. Gill, Democrat
• Gregg Harper, Republican
• Tracella Lou O’Hara Hill, Reform
Chancery Court Judge
14th Chancery District
Place 1
• Kenneth M. Burns
Place 3
• Dorothy W. Colom
Circuit Court Judge
16th Circuit District
Place 1
• James T. “Jim” Kitchens
• William Starks
Place 2
• Lee J. Howard
Place 3
• Lee S. Coleman
• Bob Marshall
• Nebra Porter
Oktibbeha County School District
Board of Trustees
District 2 Seat
• Curtis Snell
• Marvin L. Williams
At-Large Seat
• Melvin Harris
• Yvette Rice
Absentee voting for the general election continues daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday and will end after a final session from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Circuit Clerk’s Office.
Absentee ballots being sent by mail must be received in the Circuit Clerk’s Office by 5 p.m. Monday in order to be counted, McGinnis said.
Some voters who are out of town and requested absentee ballots by mail will need to check to ensure the proper zip code — 39759 — is listed on the return envelope, due to a printing error with some of the envelopes, McGinnis said.
“We had the same problem last year and tried to catch the error on all the envelopes that went out with absentee ballots to voters out of town, but a few envelopes with the wrong zip code did get out,” McGinnis said.
Poll workers for next week’s general election are being trained at the Courthouse Annex beginning at 8 a.m. today and again at 8 a.m. Friday.
Logic and accuracy tests for the touch-screen voting machines will be conducted at Courthouse Annex beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday. The voting machine tests are open for observation by the public.
For more information about voting or absentee voting for this year’s election, the Circuit Clerk’s Office may be reached by calling 323-1356 during regular business hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) Monday to Friday. The office is located in the Oktibbeha County Courthouse Annex on West Main Street.