Big turnout makes for crazy election

Published 9:51 am Wednesday, March 16, 2016

On an Election Day where 10 candidates were vying for two Lawrence County Commission seats, voter turnout reached record highs. For the board of elections and poll workers, work was continuous on Tuesday.

“There was an insanely high voter turnout for a primary election,” Mark McCown, of the Lawrence County Board of Elections, said as he was putting absentee ballots into the M650 ballot machine to be counted. “We had to print additional ballots for 20 different precincts, and some twice. It’s been a crazy, crazy day here today.”

McCown added that the board of elections started with a 20 percent buffer, meaning that 20 percent more ballots were brought in already this year than in the past eight years before they started printing their own extras.

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“Every additional ballot we’ve provided has been Republican,” McCown said. “It’s big when you get a combination of a commissioner race and a presidential race. We were over prepared, and the onslaught was still enormous. It’s just been going non-stop.”

As it drew closer to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when the polls closed, residents and various candidates started to gather in the courthouse to watch the ballot boxes roll in and the results start to scroll on the screen placed in the lobby.

“I appreciate everyone who gets out and supports whatever candidate they support and votes,” Lawrence County Treasurer Stephen Burcham said. Burcham, a Democrat, won unopposed, although he will face another candidate in the fall.

Commissioner candidates on hand at the courthouse were Dave Lucas, who ran for the seat of incumbent Bill Pratt on the Republican ticket, and Democrat DeAnna Holliday.

“We worked really hard and had really good volunteers,” Lucas said of his campaign. “We identified the issues really early on and stayed on the message of the citizens’ concerns all the way.”

Lucas is ahead of Pratt by just 15 votes in an unofficial count.

Holliday, who won unopposed, said she is excited to move forward.

“Of course, I’m blessed to be unopposed,” she said. “But we still campaigned hard and participated in the public events and forums, which were helpful to be prepared for the fall race. Lawrence County was given outstanding candidates.”

Around the corner at the RO-NA, Democrat Jon Ferguson hosted a gathering for his campaign and the Democrats.

“I want the Democratic party to stick together,” Ferguson said. “When we started this, we agreed to support each other regardless of the outcome, and regardless of the outcome, I’m here to support our candidate, whether it’s me or someone else.”

Regarding Ferguson’s campaign, he said he has no regrets.

“I have a clear conscience and no regrets, he said. “I feel like I’ve done everything I can to impress the people of Lawrence County on what I’m about.”

Running against Ferguson were Doug Malone, who ended up winning, followed by Jason Tolliver, who came in second and Tim Edwards in third.