Poll Watchers Monitor Mississippi Elections

When a race is close, every vote counts. So getting people to polls becomes "the" election day issue. That responsibility starts with campaign poll watchers. They monitor who votes.

The poll watcher taking notes for Haley Barbour was University of Georgia political science major Grant Mintz.

"This is the first really major thing I've ever done in political campaigns," Mintz said. "It's really a fun experience. Being a political activist, it's always a great thing to do."

A few feet away, J.C. Felder was on the phone with Ronnie Musgrove's campaign office. Felder was the governor's poll watcher. Because Felder voted at this Long Beach precinct, he traveled a much shorter distance to watch ballots go into boxes. He said his job was to help the campaign "muster up support. And we'll let them know kind of how it's going here."

Both Musgrove and Lt. Governor candidate Barbara Blackmon thought a big turnout at predominantly black precincts would bolster their vote totals. The democrats initially got what they wanted. Election commissioners had to bring three more voting booths to the North Gulfport precinct to handle crowds that easily beat primary totals. Precinct manager Mary Ducksworth said the turnout this time was "much better. We got sleepy last time."

Biloxi's Donal Snyder Community Center also ordered extra voting stands, when its early morning turnout exceeded expectations.