Controversial candidates, increased absentee ballots highlight historic runoff election
OXFORD – After three more weeks of continued campaigning and political strategy, the runoff election is finally here.
Polls open Tuesday at 7 a.m., allowing Oxford and Lafayette County residents to vote in two runoff polls: The U.S. Senate, between Mike Espy and Cindy Hyde-Smith, and the District 18, Place One Chancery Court seat, between Larry Little and Sarah Liddy.
The election is a continuation from Election Day where both races trimmed from three candidates to two. Chris McDaniel and Carnelia Fondren conceded from the Senate and Chancery Court races, respectively.
While voter turnout for the general election was high, the Lafayette County Clerk’s Office is also seeing high numbers in absentee balloting, which is a sign that high voter turnout will continuing through the runoff election.
Chancery Court District 18, Place One seat: Larry Little – Sarah Liddy
While all eyes are on the controversial Senate race, the Chancery Court race can actually use the Senate race as a boon.
With the Senate race being a high profile race, the turnout would most likely be higher than the local Chancery Court election could have drawn if it was the only race on the ballot.
The Chancery Court election features Little, who has been practicing law for over 40 years according to his campaign website, and Liddy, who has been a chancery court attorney for 25 years. Little
Little got 40 percent of the vote on Election Day, while Liddy edged Fondren with 32 percent of the vote to lead to the runoff.
U.S. Senate: United States Senate: Mike Espy (D) – Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)
This race has become a controversial one, as both candidates have dug themselves into strange situations.
Hyde-Smith needs little introduction, as she made national headlines by saying “if he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row” about a supporter in one instance and joked about voter suppression in another.
While at a rally in Starksville on November 3, Hyde-Smith was recorded saying: “there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.”
Espy isn’t free of his past, either. In 1998 Espy was indicted on 30 counts of accepting $35,000 in illegal gifts while he was the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Espy was acquitted of all charges, but Hyde-Smith hasn’t let constituents forget in recent political ads and during their Senate debate in Jackson last week.
Despite all of this, Hyde-Smith is still favored to win, an Espy win would be considered a massive upset, even though Espy won Lafayette County on Election Day 44 percent to 41 percent.
However, Democrat Doug Jones did upset GOP candidate Roy Moore last year in Alabama’s special Senate election, so anything is possible.
Runoff election particulars
Coinciding from the general election on Nov. 6, Lafayette County has taken measure to ensure voting would be more accessible during the runoff election.
On Nov. 6, the parking at the Oxford 4 polling center, the Lafayette Civic Club, caused problems for voters getting in and out of the venue to vote.
“People really weren’t sure where it was,” Lafayette County Circuit Clerk Baretta Mosely said.
Mosely said the problem has been addressed for the runoff, as the county will make sure parking guides will be present in the morning and in the afternoon as voters make their way to the polls.
Mosely also said that the runoff election hasn’t gathered the same number of absentee ballots than the general election, but the number was still beyond her expectations.
After receiving about 2,000 absentee ballots for the general election on Nov. 6, Mosely said the last number of runoff absentee ballots she pulled numbered around 1,200. Mosely said the clerk’s office usually receives only a few hundred absentee ballots, but this election year has blown those numbers away.
That absentee ballot number will also most likely increase when the clerk’s office finishes counting absentee ballots Tuesday night.
Finally, all 18 polling centers that were open during the general election will be open for the runoff election was well.
POLLING CENTER ADDRESSES
- Oxford 1: Oxford Park Commission Office 310 South 15th Street, Oxford, MS
- Denmark-Lafayette Springs-Pine Bluff: Fire Station #11, 11 County Road 287 Oxford, MS
- Yocona Community Center: 826 Highway 334, Oxford, MS
- Oxford 2: Oxford Conference Center 102 Ed Perry Blvd., Oxford, MS
- Philadelphia: Philadelphia Community Center, 1303 Highway 30 East, Etta, MS
- Oxford 3: Stone Recreation Center, 423 Washington Ave., Oxford, MS
- Abbeville: Abbeville Town Hall, 8 Business 7 South, Abbeville, MS
- College Hill: College Hill Community Center, 10 County Road 130, Oxford, MS
- Taylor 3: Taylor Community Center, 78 County Road 338, Taylor, MS
- Oxford 4: Lafayette Civic Club, 14 Tommie Collie Jane Rd, Oxford, MS
- Burgess: Oasis Church, 861 Highway 6 West, Oxford, MS
- Anchor-Taylor 4: Green’s Shop, 177 County Road 376, Water Valley, MS
- Union West: Fire Station #16, 823 County Road 313, Oxford, MS
- Harmontown: Fire Station #1, 599 Highway 310, Como, MS
- Oxford 5: Lafayette County Health Department, 101 Center Ridge Drive (Hwy 7 S) Oxford, MS
- Paris: Fire Station #14, 31 County Road 430, Paris, MS
- Tula: Fire Station #6, 153 County Road 436, Oxford, MS
- Airport Grocery: Fire Station #3, 15 County Road 369, Oxford, MS 38655