Tuesday night, I enjoyed my very first election night on the Carrollton square.
Since I moved to the area in 2011, I have heard many stories about the biggest and best social gathering in Carroll County, held every four years in front of The Conservative office in downtown Carrollton. Tuesday night’s resurrection did not disappoint, with hundreds gathered around the courthouse lawn waiting for the election returns to post.
Dr. Bernard Taylor, who served as Tuesday’s Master of Ceremonies, remembered Carrollton’s streets filled with people on election night – waiting for election results to be posted on a large chalk board in front of The Conservative. He remembered horse-drawn wagons filled with people pulling into the square and lining the perimeter of the square.
Barbara Rayburn, who has her own special memory from an election night more than 60 years ago (see story on page 9), said she would love to have seen an aerial shot of the square with hundreds lining Lexington Street, sitting on the ground and visiting with friends and neighbors as they waited for results.
Rayburn said she actually remembers picking out her best outfit to go “to see everyone and to be seen.”
Over the years, Taylor said, with returns announced on television or online, enthusiasm for heading to the square for election night waned. However, Tuesday night’s crowd proved that the long-standing Carroll County tradition was greatly missed.
This year, the newspaper staff was thrilled to partner with the Carroll County Development Association to bring back the Election Night Reveal Party in Carrollton. Together, we had hoped to bring back the fun family-friendly event to improve community improvement and provide a time for citizens to fellowship with their friends, neighbors, and civic leaders.
I think the event was a wild success. The Conservative provided complimentary ice-cold water and Carroll County-grown watermelons and popcorn to guests as they gathered around two large boards featuring every precinct in Carroll County. Carrollton Mayor Pam Lee, Chancery Clerk Sugar Mullins, and the newspaper staff collaborated with Circuit Clerk Durward Stanton at the Vaiden Courthouse, and we were posting results minutes after they were uploaded into the voting software.
Results were slow-going at first with a large number of absentee votes to be counted, but by 9 p.m., results were rolling in every ten minutes or so. By 11 p.m., the final box posted, and we had unofficial totals – totals without absentee and affidavit votes – were posted on the board.
The process was very exciting, as the eventual winners unfolded before our eyes.
When the final votes were posted on the board around 11 p.m., people began packing up. We were all hot in this August humidity, but very few left before the final votes were totaled. It was thrilling to see so many take an interest in whom will represent them on the county level for the next four years.
The Reveal Party was such a success, we are already thinking of ways to improve it four years from now, and the newspaper staff is even talking about bringing back the election reveal party once held at the old courthouse in Winona.
These type of events are what builds a community and inspires citizens to not only exercise their right to vote but encourages them to get more involved.
I would like to thank the leaders of the Carroll County Development Association; Carroll County; the Town of Carrollton; Mayor Pam Lee; Chancery Clerk Sugar Mullins; Circuit Clerk Durward Stanton; Snooky Lee; Keith McGee; Hi Grade Farm Supply and Ron Wood, Steve and Reba Bailey; Austin Prudhomme, and Keith Ferguson for all their help with Tuesday’s event. I also want to express my gratitude for members of our newspaper team – Adrienne Vance, Neely Prudhomme, LaKeadrea Coffey, and Shonda Milton – who went above and beyond to make Tuesday a success.