12 p.m. Problems with electronic poll books in Jackson County that temporarily stopped some people from voting seem to have been rectified.
Voters this morning at precincts in Vancleave and Ocean Springs who arrived at 7 a.m. to cast ballots reported being turned away because machines weren’t working and poll workers had to wait for manual machines.
Dan Harrington said he arrived at his Ocean Springs location on Pine Street just before polls opened and soon saw the line stall. Several people left and Harrington also departed to go to work, he said. He later heard from his wife that she had been able to vote after a 45-minute wait at 10:20 a.m.
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Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said that at some precincts the electronic poll books were not operational at 7 a.m. and workers did not have paper ballots, which delayed checking in voters. The problem has been corrected.
Lines at polling locations across the Coast have remained long throughout the morning — up to several hours at some locations — with poll workers and voters reporting they had never seen lines that size at their respective locations.
“The polls are officially open,” was bellowed loudly Tuesday morning at the Donal Snyder Community Center on Pass Road, signifying that Election Day 20126 was officially under way.
Although the weather was wet and gloomy, it did not deter more than 120 people from wrapping a line around the center’s gymnasium to cast their votes for the next president of the US, many arriving as early as 6:30 a.m.
If you aren’t familiar with the Donal Synder Center, it won’t be hard to find on Tuesday. Just look for the building that has lines of traffic on both sides as people will spill in and out to vote until 7 p.m. It’s entrance way is also lined with several campaign signs, many of them showing support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The crowd was made up of mostly white voters who appeared to be 55 and older, several of them wore hats signifying they were veterans. Many also donned American flag t-shirts as they waited patiently in the line. But regardless of for whom they were voting, people still took time to make small talk and open the center’s door for one another.
Dusti Pisarich was the first person to exit the building sporting an “I voted” sticker.
“I wasn’t the first person in line, but I was the first to cast my vote,” Pisarich said. “I wanted to vote early because I have to work — I’m just glad that the campaign is over and we can finally vote.”
Sheena Kelly was also among the first to cast their vote. She, too, said, she was on her way to work.
“I also wanted to see what the mood was like early in the morning,” Kelly said. “There were a lot of people voting, but I kind of expected more.”
Larozzo Shugart said he was on his way to work and he wanted to make sure that he had the opportunity to vote.
“It’s been a long election season and I’m glad it’s over,” he said. “But I’m also a veteran and I think it’s very important for people to get out and vote.”
Strong early voter turnout was also reported at Bel-Aire Elementary School precinct as voters waited patiently in line to get to the booths.
“Right now it’s looking good and it’s moving smoothly,” poll manager Reta Henderson said.
Voter turnout was heavy mid-morning at the New Hope precinct at Harrison County High School. By 9 a..m, the line was long and 240 ballots had been cast. There about 1,200 registered voters at the precinct.
Jane McBride of Lyman said she and her husband had waited after the polls opened to avoid a crowd.
"I didn't expect this," she said as she stood in a long line.
People were grumbling in Vancleave, where early voters at the United Methodist Church on Mississippi 57 waited about 30 minutes to cast their vote and the person handing out "I voted" stickers said he'd never seen such a crowd so early on Election Day.
At the community center on Ballpark Road in Vancleave, election workers said they weren't allowed to talk about the early problems voters reported. Voters who arrived at 7 a.m. were told the voting machines weren't working and they should come back later.
The poll workers provided a phone number to their supervisor at the courthouse for information.
John Fitzgugh, Robin Fitzgerald and Mary Perez contributed to this report.