Thursday, November 13, 2008
Election night goes smoothly
By SUE WATSON
Voter turnout was early and heavy in Marshall County November 4 with lines at the polls in most precincts well before voting began at 7 a.m., according to election officials.
But voting went smoothly at most precincts, according to circuit clerk Lucy Carpenter. Approximately 80 percent of the registered voters in the county cast ballots. She attributed the smooth election day to several factors. Most precincts, if not all, finished by the 7 p.m. closing time.
At the Barton precinct it was reported that about 100 voters were waiting at the poll at 7 a.m., Carpenter said. Other precincts also had large turnouts early in the day, which was picture perfect with regard to weather. Waterford precinct had about 20 waiting for the polls to open and had signed in 123 voters in the poll books one hour and 20 minutes after polls opened.
Voting at the Multi-Purpose Building in Holly Springs was heavy due to an estimated 600 Rust College students coming early. Hundreds of students lined up at the poll at the Multi-Purpose Building by mid-morning and those students, many of who were experiencing their first time to vote in a presidential election, were excited and courteous, waving older voters to the front of the lines.
Some Rust College students made the following comments while waiting in line to vote.
“It feels great because we have a real learning opportunity and it feels great to be a part of history,” said Sylvia Collins.
John Wilson liked being involved.
“It gives me a feeling of productivity. I feel like I'm not left behind,” he said.
Jeremy Austin agreed.
“It gives us a responsibility to elect our next commander-in-chief,” he said.
Jacob Johnson liked being involved in something important and historic - the election of the first African American as president.
“It gives me great honor to be a part of something that matters,” he said.
Well-trained poll workers, election commissioners and those helping tally the vote after the polls closed were a key factor in the successful election this year, Carpenter said.
A well-conducted election was important to Marshall County more than ever this year because of the historic nature of the presidential race that pitted Democratic Party Sen. Barack Obama, the first African American presidential candidate, against Republican Party Sen. John McCain, a war hero.
Newly registered voters helped swell the voter turnout in the county, Carpenter said.
This year nearly 3,000 new voters registered since January 1.
“Nearly 2,000 of them are people who never voted here in Marshall County,” she said.
Part of the new registrations she attributed to those who register only during presidential election years and who vote only in presidential elections, Carpenter said.
“We have people who are absentee voting who haven’t voted since the last presidential election,” she said.
Voter turnout nationwide was the best in generations. A post-election story filed in Washington and running on Yahoo News, touted that the turnout was the biggest seen in 40 years. Approximately 133.3 million people voted for president based on preliminary results and projections of absentee ballots, according to Michael McDonald of George Mason University in the Yahoo article. The method used would put the 2008 election at 62.5 percent turnout nationwide, equal or better than the 1964 election and possibly just under the 1960 election when 63.8 percent of registered voters went to the polls to elect President John F. Kennedy.
According to CNN, Obama received 364 electoral votes to McCain’s 163.
In popular vote, CNN reported November 11 that Barack Obama received approximately 66 million votes to John McCain’s approximate 58 million (53 percent to 46 percent).
A successful drive to register new voters, especially ones under 30 years of age, was believed to a strong contributor in President-elect Obama’s capturing the large majority of electoral votes.
The number of absentee ballots cast in Marshall County this election was 1,444, up from 919 in the 2004 election, Carpenter said.
The official summary of the general election in Marshall County was not available at presstime due to 146 affidavit ballots out of 443 cast that were sent to the Secretary of State’s office for (address) verification with the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.
“If these 146 affidavit voters were merely inactive voters (those who have not voted in the county in a long time), they will be counted,” Carpenter said.
See the end of this story for unofficial election results which include absentee votes and machine votes, but not affidavit votes. The election results will not be certified by the Election Commission until all affidavit votes are verified.
The unofficial recap of the Marshall County election returns (rounded to the nearest whole number) follows:
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