From Staff and Wire Reports
After listening to months of campaigning, driving by dozens of road signs and being bombarded with commercials, voters in Northeast Mississippi and West Alabama finally go to the polls Tuesday. While the ballot in both states is not as crowded as many states, area voters still have some important decisions that go beyond the vote for president.
Obviously the race the nation will be watching Tuesday is the race between President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. But four other third party candidates will also appear on the ballot in Mississippi and three in Alabama.
Most voters in Northeast Mississippi will also pick their favorites in the First District congressional race where Republican Alan Nunnelee is seeking a second term. Democrat Brad Morris is his biggest challenger. Three other people also are on the ballot.
Some area residents will cast ballots in the second or third congressional districts, depending on where they live.
In West Alabama, the 4th and 7th Congressional district races are on the ballot for some residents.
U.S. Senator Roger Wicker is also seeking his first full term with a challenge from Democrat Albert Gore of Starkville and two other candidates.
In the race for District 3 seat on the supreme court, Josiah Coleman of Pontotoc County and Flip Phillips of Batesville have waged a heated campaign. The candidates don’t run with party affiliations, but outside interest groups have pumped thousands of dollars into television advertising in an effort to win a seat that could decide which way the state’s highest court leans for the next few years.
In local races, several counties across the region have contested races for school board seats and Election Commissioners. The biggest race is in Calhoun County where nine people are running in a special election for the open Chancery Court seat.
And finally in West Alabama, Lamar, Fayette and Marion counties all have hotly-contested races for Probate Judge. All three counties have big circuit court clerk races as well.
Precincts have changed in some areas because of redistricting, so be sure to check with your circuit clerk’s office.
JACKSON — Here’s a look at five things to watch on election day in Mississippi:
1.A CROWDED BALLOT FOR PRESIDENT
While incumbent Democrat Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney get most of the attention, there are four other parties with presidential candidates on the ballot. They include the Green Party (Jill Stein), Libertarian (Gary Johnson), Constitution (Virgil Goode) and Reform (Barbara Dale Washer). Mississippi has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980, when Democrat incumbent Jimmy Carter lost to Republican challenger Ronald Reagan.
2.ANOTHER GORE IN SENATE RACE
Mississippi voters will decide whether to return Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker to Capitol Hill, or perhaps choose Democrat Albert N. Gore. The Constitution Party’s Thomas Cramer and Reform Party’s Shawn O’Hara also are in the race. Though the names are similar, Mississippi’s Gore is not the former U.S. senator and vice president from Tennessee by the same name. Mississippi’s Gore is a retired minister.
3.FOUR FOR THE HOUSE
Also up for grabs on Tuesday are four seats in Congress. Republican incumbents hold three of them (Alan Nunnelee, Greg Harper and Steven Palazzo). The only U.S. House seat from Mississippi held by a Democrat is the 2nd Congressional District, where incumbent Bennie Thompson faces three challengers.
4.NO ID NEEDED FOR THIS ELECTION
Mississippi voters won’t be required to show identification because the federal government hasn’t decided whether to approve the state’s proposed voter ID law. Because of its history of racial discrimination, Mississippi must have federal approval of any changes to voting laws or processes. The U.S. Justice Department has asked for more information about the proposed law before deciding whether it can be implemented. Still, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant has suggested it would be a good idea for voters to voluntarily show identification.
5.THE CLOCK STARTS TICKING
Polls statewide open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Sunrise on Tuesday is shortly after 6 a.m. and sunset is a few minutes after 5 p.m. So polls will open after sunrise but close well after the sun sets.
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