November 2, 2013 10:07:41 PM
Election Commissioner Myles Carpenter says Oktibbeha County poll workers are ready for Tuesday's prosecutor race and are informed on how to handle potential voting issues that emerged during this year's municipal primaries.
Numerous issues surfaced during Starkville's Democratic primaries this spring. As city commissioners scrutinized numerous affidavit ballots from the Ward 2 and 4 Democratic races, contestants and voters alleged numerous residents were left off voter rolls, forced to erroneously vote by the special provision or sent to the wrong precinct. The processes of deciding those two elections were drawn out for days, and in Ward 4's case, went before a judge who would later dismiss candidate John Gaskin's petition for a judicial review.
Poll workers received pre-election training from election commissioners this week at the courthouse.
Those workers must be ready to handle a wide array of issues, Carpenter said, ranging from malfunctioning machines, voters whose names are not on the books, the process of accepting or rejecting an absentee ballot, tending to curbside voter rules or even handling unruly voters.
"We're all aware of what happened in the city this year. As election officials, you never know what's going to happen next," he said. "Hopefully, things will go smoothly for this race."
Voting machines underwent logic and accuracy testing Thursday, a process developed by the manufacturer that assures the devices are ready for upcoming elections. Following those tests, the machines were sealed by commissioners. Monday, the devices will be delivered to each of the county's 21 polling precincts.
Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close 12 hours later.
Interim Oktibbeha County Prosecutor Haley Brown faces local attorneys Brace Knox and Matthew Wilson for the elected position. That race is the only contest on Tuesday's ballot.
Pre-election campaign reports show Brown holds a significant fundraising edge over her two opponents, outpacing both in receipts and distributions. She raised $16,224 by Tuesday's report deadline, while Wilson brought in $5,728.43 and Knox's report states the candidate received no contributions.
Of the itemized listings, the reports show a number of prominent Starkville-based lawyers backing Brown -- eight of her 12 listed donors are either local attorneys or law firms. Only two of those listed donors provided addresses that are not based in Starkville. Comparatively, of Wilson's four itemized donors, only one lists a physical address in Starkville. The other three -- two of which have legal ties -- list Tennessee addresses.
A special election was called after Roy Carpenter Jr. ended his almost 30-year career as Starkville's and Oktibbeha County's prosecutor in June.
Brown, who the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors named interim prosecutor, graduated from the University of Mississippi's law school and served as a prosecutorial extern. Mississippi's Limited Practice Act allowed her to prosecute cases as a third-year law student before she earned her license.
Knox is a Mississippi College School of Law graduate who began her full-time Starkville practice in 2007. Recently, she partnered professionally with MC Law Graduate Philip Laura.
Wilson operates a general practice in Starkville and handles civil and criminal litigation. He is a graduate of Mississippi State University's Bagley College of Engineering.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch
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