Voter Turnout Remains An Election Eve Question Mark

As Vertie Marie Bradley pulled up to the election commission office to pick up Gulfport's election ballots, she was asked by a clerk, "Are you ready for tomorrow?" Bradley smiled and said, "Yes I am."

The question is whether voters are ready to head back to the polls for the third time since May 1, 2001. "I certainly hope they will," Bradley said, "because we're about to get us a new mayor to run our city and we're going to be out there in full force."

Gulfport city clerk Sandy Baylor didn't share that turnout optimism. "The first two primaries, we had 26% to 17%. And I'm looking for somewhere in between." That means less than 25% of Gulfport's registered voters will choose the next city leaders. Baylor called that, "Disappointing."

We stopped a pharmacy lunch counter to find out just home many registered voters plan on voting Tuesday. Twelve registered voters were having lunch. All 12 nodded their heads and said they will be voting in the city elections. One woman proudly said, "Of course. I never miss." Another woman said, "We always vote. It tells what we want and who we want to go in."

One theory raised at the lunch counter was that people who don't vote have no interest in how their cities operate. A voter tried to explain that mentality. He said, "I guess they feel it's a done deal already and they don't think their vote is important."

He doesn't feel that way. The voter expects to be first in line at his polling place. When he gets to his precinct, he'll see poll workers like Vertie Marie Bradley. On the eve of her city's election, she had faith that people would get out and vote.

Complete coverage of the 2001 city elections begins Tuesday night at 9:00 on WLOX-TV.