Hattiesburg voters were given a second chance to vote for mayor in a special election Tuesday.
Incumbent Mayor Johnny DuPree and independent challenger Dave Ware squared off against each other again in what has been nicknamed the “election that never ends.”
The polls have since closed and precinct numbers have been reported. DuPree received 49 percent with 6,816 votes. Ware received 50 percent with 6,848 votes. Independent challenger Shawn O’Hara received 26 votes total.
“We have gone through this in June, in August and we are going through it again,” DuPree told his supporters Tuesday night. “We will go to sleep 32 votes behind, but when we finish with absentee votes we will be victorious.”
Ware thanked his supporters and stressed that there is still work to be done.
“We’re going to see this thing through to the end tomorrow,” Ware said. “We’re going to continue to stand up because this community is going to move forward together.”
The Hattiesburg Election Commission began the process of counting the affidavit and absentee votes at City Hall Wednesday.
“We’ve had nearly double the amount of absentee votes that we had during the general election,” said Connie Everett, City of Hattiesburg deputy clerk.
“We ended up with 1,055 ballots that were logged in and were sent out to various precincts for them to review and either accept or reject whenever they got through with regular voting,” she said.
Porsha White, a senior political science major, worked her fifth election Tuesday as a poll manager. White was the receiving and returning manager for Camp precinct.
“I basically made sure my precinct ran smoothly,” White said. “I made sure there were no voter discrepancies, took care of all affidavit and absentee ballots and made sure everything stayed sealed and that nobody was violating any rules.”
The Rowan precinct ballot box was the last to arrive to City Hall Tuesday night. According to the attorney general, the ballot box arrived to City Hall without the required seal. An election commissioner escorted the padlocked box back to City Hall until a seal was placed on the Rowan box.
“I don’t know if they ran out of them there, but it did not have a seal,” Ward 4 Election Commissioner Turner Jones said in a quote to the Hattiesburg American. “It had a padlock on it, but it didn’t have the seal.”
White received the all-clear for her precinct’s ballot box Wednesday afternoon.
“It’s all coming down to improper [poll worker] training,” White said of the mistakes made at the polls.
Anna Pickens, a senior communication studies major, has been following the totals since election night and is ready to see who will win the race.
“[The counting] is taking way too long,” said Pickens. “But in a way I understand why it’s taking them so long because we don’t want to have to go through something like this again.”
According to the Hattiesburg American, election commissioners accepted 646 ballots from nine of the 14 precincts before the commissioners decided to continue the process Thursday at 9 a.m.
“Hattiesburg’s tired of it,” she said. “We just want an answer.”