Voter turnout low for Clay County

Betty Mason signs the form after presenting a photo ID to the poll workers Deloies Raleigh and Marvin Turnipseed.
Staff Writer

Once all the primary ballots were cast in Clay County on Tuesday, roughly 13 percent of the county’s 13,618 registered voters made it to the polls.

According to the poll workers at East, West and South West Point precincts, voter turnout was extremely slow Tuesday. The primary election for a Senate seat currently held by Republican Roger Wicker saw the incumbent Wicker running against Richard Warren Boyanton to be the Republican nominee and vying to be the Democratic nominee in the November election: David Baria, Jansen Bohran, Jarone Garland, Victor G. Maurice Jr., Omeria Scott and Howard Sherman.

The most votes were cast for the Democratic Primary for senate, with 973.

Poll worker Deloies Raleigh hoped the voter turnout would be picking up later in the day. The East West Point precinct at the American Legion Hut on Westbrook had a trickle of voters coming in the door.

"We have sample ballots on the wall for those who knew there was an election, but weren't sure who was running," Raleigh said. "That way they can see what their options are to help them decide."

Shirley Nash was proud to be voting in the primary.

"People fought and died for our right to vote," Nash said. "It is a privilege to be able to vote. I always vote, I don't'care if its a big election or a small one."

Bettye Swift is a poll worker at the Henry Harris Building on Court Street.

"It's a little slow today," Swift said. "By noon we only had about 20 people come in and vote at the Democrat table, and 16 at the Republican table. We expect a much better turnout in November. Primaries don't generate the interest the actual election does. But they are both very important."

Sarah McMillian had already cast her vote at the South West Point Brame Avenue precinct, but came back bringing her former teacher, Velma S. Weeks to cast her ballot.

"I've been too blessed in my life not to help other people," McMillian said. "If I can help Miss Velma by bringing her to vote I'm glad to do it. Everyone needs to vote."

Poll worker Odessa Hale said she had been working the polls since the old Ivy Memorial Hospital was a voting precinct.

"My husband brought me here to West Point in 2001," Hale said. "I was at Ivy Memorial and Ivy Lanes. I enjoy being a poll worker."

Margaret Shelton is the manager of the South West Point Brame Avenue precinct building.

"There is usually an influx at noon and at 5 p.m. after people get off work," Shelton said. "I was a poll worker since 2000. I've been building manager for five years. People who work the polls are very dedicated."

Shelton said she values the people of the community who are exercising their right to vote.

"People need to understand how important it is to vote," Shelton said. "We need to educate our young people on the price that has been paid for them to have the freedoms they take for granted."

Shelton said most youth have no idea how hard fought the right to vote has been for both women and African Americans.

"It makes me sad that the voter turnout has not been what it should," Shelton said. "But hopefully we'll have a lot of people come by and vote after they get off work today."