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County faces $15K unexpected expense for special election, runoff

December 6, 2012

The Clay County Board of Supervisors spent a portion of Thursday morning discussing various needs for the upcoming special election, including where the funds will come from to cover the cost of the special election.
This past Tuesday, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant informed election commissions in District 16 that a special election will be held Jan. 15, 2013 due to the passing of District 16 Sen. Bennie Turner, and if necessary, a runoff will be held Feb. 5, 2013.
Clay County Election Commission President Wendy Fuller said the cost of the special election for Clay County is estimated at $8,000, and the runoff, if a candidate does not receive 51 percent of the votes, is estimated at $7,000. These costs are for payment to poll workers as well as materials needed, and the $8,000 for the special election does not include payment to election commissioners.
“We have no choice; we have to have (the election)” said Luke Lummus, president of the Clay County Board of Supervisors.
District 4 Supervisor Shelton Deanes suggested that the board ask the state for reimbursement on the county’s payments for the elections.
“It’s a special deal, and it’s something we didn’t budget for,” Deanes said. “It never hurts to ask.”
Fuller said the presidential election in November did take “a big chunk” out of the Election Commission’s budget since the Election Commission had to double up on materials due to the big voter turnout of 80 percent of all registered voters in the county. Fuller said she expects the voter turnout for the special election to be between 35 percent and 50 percent.
To help save money, the Election Commission will use no more than three voting machines at each precinct, will use only one table per precinct and will not need to order as much material. The Election Commission will likely not utilize as many poll workers during the special election as were used during the presidential election. But by law, she said, a minimum of three poll workers must be available at each voting precinct, which includes the bailiff, the receiving/returning manager and the table attendant.
Clay County Circuit Clerk Bob Harrell said these three people are needed in the event of a challenge.
As the Election Commission prepares for the upcoming election, election commissioners are asking the Board of Supervisors to supply the new Henry Harris Building on Court Street, which is one of the 14 voting precincts, with necessary furniture and services, such as phone and Internet connections, five desks and five chairs.
“This is one of the nicest buildings the county owns, and we need to put decent things in that building,” Deanes said.
After a brief discussion about pricing of desks and chairs and how the furniture will be paid for, Fuller suggested that each supervisor pay for a desk and chair out of their maintenance fund for the election commissioner representing his district, which would allow more money out of the Election Commission’s budget to go towards the special election. But Clay County Chancery Clerk Amy Berry said, after speaking with the State Audit Department, supervisors can’t purchase furniture for the Henry Harris Building out of their road maintenance fund since those funds have to be used strictly for road and bridge projects, but the county can pull funding from the general fund or one of the special funds, such as Tom Soya Grain, to help cover the election.
The board did carry a motion to set up Internet service at the Henry Harris Building, and the cost of this services is around $300, which Berry said could be taken out of the data processing budget. A phone line will likely be installed soon. The board will revisit the request for providing desks and chairs for the building before the special election.

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