Doddsville citizens will not be voting at the Health Department building for the June 26 U.S. Senate runoff election, and the change of venue will likely be permanent.
Tuesday voters will go to the Doddsville Community Center located at 144 Eastland Street.
The election on Tuesday will decide whether Democratic candidates Howard Sherman or David Baria will face Republican Roger Wicker in the November general election.
Those who voted Republican on June 5 are not eligible to vote in Tuesday’s runoff.
Those who voted Democrat or who are eligible but did not vote at all on June 5 may cast a ballot in Tuesday’s contest.
Sunflower County Circuit Clerk Carolyn Hamilton said the day before the June 5 primary election, a pipe burst in the Health Department building, and though the plumbing was fixed, officials felt it was not a safe place to hold the election due to mold buildup.
“The building is not being utilized, and sometimes the water sits in the building until someone notices that water is coming out of the building,” Hamilton said.
The Community Center was used for the June 5 election.
While an emergency situation, the move earlier this month was not authorized by the Sunflower Board of Supervisors, and the location change was made too close to the election date, Board Attorney Johnny McWilliams said.
McWilliams said that the previous change of venue and the board’s move on Monday to officially move the polling place to the Community Center could lead to problems for the county.
“This came up way before (the pipe burst),” McWilliams said. “There was a request to move the Doddsville voting place. I advised you shouldn’t, because it was too close to the election. The person running in an election has the right to have the voting take place (at that location). The election can be challenged. The only way it can be properly moved is by this board.”
Board President Glenn Donald said the move was only made due to the emergency situation related to the flooding.
“We weren’t trying to do anything intentionally wrong,” Donald said.
Supervisor Anthony Clark agreed.
“This building is not suitable,” Clark said. “I went and looked at it.”
McWilliams suggested at one point that a mobile trailer could be rented and brought to the original polling place’s address so that there would be no change in the location.
Hamilton said that poll workers were posted outside the Health Department during voting hours to direct voters to the new location.
McWilliams said that he had previously attempted to gain more information on the Community Center location, but he could not make a recommendation because he could not locate an address for the building.
“Nobody gave me the new address to the new place, and I couldn’t get it,” he said.
Sunflower County Democratic Executive Committee Chairman David Rushing was in attendance, and though he said he could not speak for the entire committee, he said he did not believe they would challenge the upcoming election based on the change of venue.
“If there is a challenge to it, I have advised you,” McWilliams told the board.
Donald later asked E911 Director John Thompson to either locate the address or assign one if it did not have one.
Hamilton also brought up the need to possibly change Ruleville’s polling place after the upcoming June 26 runoff.
“We’re having issues, and we need to be looking for another precinct for the November election,” Hamilton said.
It is currently being done at William Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, but that church members believed it was originally intended to be a temporary location.
Hamilton said late Monday that she intends to reach out to the deacons at the church to make sure that information about elections is being communicated properly.
The building that houses the Fannie Lou Hamer Museum was suggested as a potential new site for elections in the city.
Rushing said the building is city-owned and could be a viable option.
McWilliams said the decision to move this location after the runoff next week is appropriate because it will allow enough time for the voters to be informed about the relocation.