Voter turnout was bit better than expected for general election

by Sean Dunlap

About the biggest surprise in the Tuesday, Nov. 8 general election across Franklin County was the turnout — as 45.94 percent of area voters cast a ballot in person or by absentee.

Circuit Clerk Warren Walker said a tally of the county’s 6,069 registered voters showed that 2,788 participated in last week’s election including 222 absentee ballots that were requested.

“With as few local races that were on the ballot as compared with other elections, it was probably a better-than-expected turnout,” he said.

Walker also noted very few problems — primarily power supply glitches — were reported with the county’s newly purchased scanning voting machines that were used for the first time.

The machines accept uniform paper ballots where voters pencil in the bubble beside the name of the candidate of their choice.

When a voter has marked his or her official ballot, the machine scans the form, tallies the count and secures the document in the event a hand count is needed at a later date to verify results.

Some issues did arise, however, with a handful of residents whose polling places had shifted due to federally mandated redistricting in the wake of the 2020 Census.

County election officials had mailed postcards to those residents impacted by a change of where they vote, but there was still some confusion at polling time.

Walker confirmed his office had also received 51 affidavit ballots that were not part of last Tuesday’s vote count, but would formally be accepted or rejected this week.

Unofficial results from in person and absentee balloting in Franklin County included:

• U.S. House of Representatives Second Congressional District — Republican Brian Flowers, 1,912; Democrat Bennie G. Thompson, 867.

Unofficial returns from throughout the Second District gave Thompson the win with 101,154 votes to Flowers’ 68,427 votes.

• Mississippi Court of Appeals District 4 Position 1 — Bruce W. Burton, 1,187; Virginia Carlton, 1,195.

Throughout the judicial district, the incumbent Carlton was declared the unofficial winner of that race with 33,693 votes to Burton’s 27,773 votes.

• Franklin County Chancery Court District 4 Post 1 Judge Debbra K. Halford ran unopposed and collected 2,485 votes.

• Franklin County Chancery Court District 4 Post 2 Judge Wayne Smith, who was also unopposed, pulled in 2,431 votes.

Both Halford and Smith also represent Amite, Pike and Walthall counties on the bench.

• Franklin County Circuit Judge District 6 Post 2 — incumbent jurist Debra W. Blackwell finished atop a three-person race with 1,427 votes.

Challengers Timothy David Blalock gained 914 votes in Franklin County while Eileen M. Maher received 317 votes.

Tallies from other counties in the circuit court district helped to re-elect Blackwell.

• Franklin County School Board District 1 representative Gloria Hayes and District 2 member Vanessa Walker were both unopposed in their races to seek re-election.

Hayes garnered 418 votes and Walker tallied 501 votes.

• In a special election to fill the Franklin County District 2 Election Commissioner’s seat, Hilda Peeler defeated Mary Kay Holt, 349-177.