Exercise your rights: cast a vote Tuesday

Published 8:38 pm Saturday, May 31, 2014

On Tuesday, Lincoln County area citizens, like their counterparts across Mississippi, will have the opportunity to exercise one of America’s most cherished privileges – the right to vote for their elected officials.

Tuesday’s election consists of Democratic and Republican primaries for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives – the sort of election that typically draws little attention from the voters when incumbents are running.

But this year’s U.S. Senate race between incumbent Republican Sen. Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel, a Republican state senator who has drawn strong backing from the Tea Party, has flooded the airways, the social media and print news media.

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Whether the high-profile Senate sparring match will draw voters to the polls or keep them away if they disagree with the campaign tactics remains to be seen on Tuesday. But one thing’s for certain, by the end of the day and after the final vote counts that night across the state, Mississippians will have selected Republican and Democratic nominees for the Senate and House and will have moved a step closer to choosing their leaders in these two positions for another term of office.

While the political campaigns may have been getting most of the attention this spring, this Tuesday’s election also is significant in yet another way. For the first time, state voters will be asked to present a photo ID at the polls. The change is the result of a constitutional initiative passed by state voters, and the Mississippi secretary of state’s office has spent a great deal of time and expense educating citizens about how to comply with the law.

According Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, the following photo identification cards are acceptable for voters to present at the polls:

• A driver’s license

• A photo ID card issued by a branch, department or entity of the state of Mississippi

• A U.S. passport

• A government employee ID card

• A firearms license

• A student photo ID issued by an accredited Mississippi university, college or community/junior college

• A U.S. military ID

• A tribal photo ID

• Any other photo ID issued by any branch, department, agency or entity of the U.S. government or any state government

• A Mississippi voter ID card issued through the county circuit clerk’s and Mississippi secretary of state’s offices.

Although the information about the voter ID requirement for Tuesday’s election has been highly publicized, the state is not going to allow any registered voter to be turned away, officials say. If a registered voter gets to the polls June 3 and does not have a photo ID, he or she will still be allowed to vote an affidavit ballot June 3 and then contact the circuit clerk’s office within five business days to verify his or her identity.

The only way to ensure a free democracy is for citizens to exercise their constitutional right and go to the polls. That process also works best with informed voters. If you haven’t already done so, take some time to educate yourself about the candidates and their stance on the issues that are important to you.

Since Tuesday’s election is a party primary, voters will have to decide whether they want to vote a Democratic or a Republican ballot.

Besides Cochran and McDaniel, the Republican ballot for the Senate also includes Thomas L. Carey. The Republican candidates seeking the nomination in the congressional race are Hardy Caraway and incumbent Gregg Harper.

Democrats running for the nomination for the U.S. Senate are Travis W. Childers, William Bond Compton Jr., Bill Marcy and Jonathan Rawl. Democrats seeking the nomination for the congressional post are Jim Liljeberg, Douglas MacArthur “Doug” Magee and Dennis C. Quinn.

Do your research on the candidates and then, please, go to the polls Tuesday and exercise your right to choose our state’s leadership in Washington.

If you don’t vote, you’re missing out on a vital part of this glorious adventure we call a democracy.

See you at the polls.