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Voters Return To Polls, Fewer Problems Expected

Yalobusha Circuit Clerk Darly Burney demonstrates the statewide voting database, SEMS, that is maintained by the Secretary of State. – Photo by Jack Gurner

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – Voters in Ward Three will return to the polls Tuesday, May 19, for a runoff in the city’s Democratic Primary Election and officials are hoping that things will run more smoothly than they did on May 5.

Phillip Tallant will face Rubye Carr for the Ward Three Alderman’s seat. Tallant got 105 votes to Carr’s 100. Another 51 votes went to other candidates which gave Tallant only 41 percent of the vote.

Voters from all over the city complained that they were not in the poll books or were incorrectly listed. Some told of being sent from one polling place to another before being allowed to vote.

One Panola Street man visited all four polling places before a helpful worker at Ward One in the electric department sent him back to Ward Three at the National Guard armory.

However, some of the problems were the fault of voters who didn’t know in which ward they lived or had never even registered to vote. Reportedly several county residents showed up to vote in Ward Three. They were turned away.

“I deeply apologize to anyone who was put out,” said City Clerk Vivian Snider. “We thought, and we really felt confident that we had everybody where they were supposed to be.”

“The county is what we consider to be the main register for voters. And we try to work with them and keep the books updated,” Snider added. “I’m strictly not blaming the county for any of this. I know it’s my responsibility and some things were overlooked.”

Yalobusha County Circuit Clerk Daryl Burney said that he received numerous phone calls throughout the day. His office stayed busy providing up to date information to voters during the election.

Burney currently has nothing to do with city elections. “Each city runs their own election,” he said. “By law the county will assume the cities’ poll books in 2010. Any problems with the poll books will be resolved at that time by state statue. They will match ours exactly.”

Burney added that his office has purged around 900 voters countywide just since December due to inactivity or bad addresses.

Because of the county system, the city was able to verify voter information, Snider said. “Once I had made that determination, I just felt like there wasn’t a need for an affidavit vote. I told the workers to go ahead and write them in. I had proof that they were there. And they just went on as a regular voter.”

One of the people who didn’t show up on the computer print out of the city’s poll books was Don Simoneaux, candidate for Alderman at Large. The question arose as to how Simoneaux qualified to run for the post if he wasn’t in the city poll books.

“I don’t know what happened with that,” Snider said. “He showed up on our computer. It is a possibility that we might have had some glitches. Anything can happen with a computer.”

I hate it. We just felt confident when we sent the poll books out that everything was in order,” she continued. “We apologize and only hope that doesn’t happen again.”

There are currently 3777 registered voters in Water Valley, according to city records. The most recent population estimate from the census bureau shows the city with 3929 residents.  

The voter turnout for the primary was 933, a little less than 25 percent. In 2005 the turnout was 1089 or 33 percent of the then 3305 registered voters.  “It’s a sad state of affairs when people won’t turn out to vote. And remember, if you did not vote, do not complain,” said long-time political observer Snooky Williams.  

Election Results Certified

Melvin Ford, chairman of the Water Valley Democratic Party Executive Committee, said that the committee met last Wednesday and certified the election results.

Ford said that the committee also responded to a request from Ward Four Alderman candidate Terry Allen who was seeking a recount. Allen lost to opponent Larry Bell by a two-vote margin.

Allen dropped his request after determining that no affidavit ballots were involved and learning that the votes had been counted three times at the poll.

Ford said that Allen and Bell were both present at the meeting and shook hands “in a very cordial manner” before leaving.

Along with Chairman Ford, members of the committee include Keith River, Patsy Humphreys, Bill McGoodwin, Ethel Morgan, and Mildred “Mim” Carpenter.

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