Clerk’s office can finally accept absentee votes for next week’s run-off

Union County Circuit Clerk Phyllis Stanford is accepting absentee ballots for next week’s Republican senate race run-off, but Saturday will be the last day anyone may cast an absentee ballot in person. Absentee ballots that are mailed in can be received by Stanford’s office up to 5 p.m. next Monday, the day before the election.

Results from the primary June 3 were not certified until this past Friday so no ballots could be cast until Saturday morning. The clerk’s office had to use the paper ballots left over from the primary, marking out the names of all but the top two in the run-off that morning. As of Monday, absentee ballots with only the names of incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and Tea Party challenger Chris McDaniel had been printed. They still will have to be hand-counted next Tuesday, regardless.

Cochran, who has served in the Senate since 1978 and the House from 1972 until then, carried Union County in the primary. His wife is the former Rose Clayton of New Albany, daughter of well-known attorney Hugh N. Clayton. McDaniel received a slight majority over Cochran statewide, however, leading by about 1,400 votes.

Since this is a party nominating process rather than a general election, only those who voted in the Republican primary June 3, or who did not vote at all, can participate June 24. Those who voted in the Democratic primary cannot take part. There will be no party restrictions in the general election in November.

Polls will again be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 24, at all 20 Union County precincts. As was the case June 3, voters will have to present an approved photo ID before being allowed to vote.

The need for photo IDs presented no problems June 3, election officials said. According to the secretary of state’s office, only three persons in Union County tried to vote without having any sort of acceptable ID. All three were allowed to cast affidavit ballots but those ballots were rejected after the voters failed to bring proof of identification to the circuit clerk’s office in the required seven days.

Stanford’s office will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday and from 8 a.m. until noon Saturday, June 21, for the convenience of absentee voters.

The winner of the June 24 run-off will face Democratic nominee and former Prentiss County Chancery Clerk Travis Childers and Reform candidate Shawn O’Hara in the general election Nov. 4.

The House seat, several judicial posts and one county school board seat will be on the November ballot as well.