Your vote matters
Published 9:31 pm Friday, March 6, 2020
While many states across the country just concluded primary elections last week on what is commonly referred to as Super Tuesday, voters in Mississippi are gearing up for our primary election this coming Tuesday. Over the next few days, Mississippians will see and hear a good bit of election-related information, whether it’s television, radio, newspaper or online ads, or in conversations with family and friends about the various candidates running for office.
As the state’s Chief Elections Officer, my goal is to have a fair primary election conducted with integrity. The Secretary of State’s Office is determined to make sure your right to vote is protected, and we encourage all Mississippians to make their voices heard. Regardless of which party or candidate you support, I encourage you to vote in the primary election on Tuesday. Your vote matters, your vote counts, and your participation in elections is essential to the continuation of our democracy.
The Secretary of State’s Y’all Vote website (www.yallvote.sos.ms.gov) guides Mississippians through the voting process from start to finish. The website includes information on voter registration, absentee ballots, how to find your polling location, and important election deadlines. Sample ballots are also listed for voters to review and study before heading to the polls Tuesday.
Mississippi’s successful Voter ID law is one example of how government officials are protecting the integrity of your vote. The law has been in place since the 2014 election. Just like in every election since then, please make sure to bring your ID with you to your polling location. It’s an essential piece of the voting process.
Political parties conduct primary elections, but our office will have observers in precincts across the state on Election Day. Observers will refer any problems witnessed at the polls to the authorities, including the Attorney General’s Office or appropriate District Attorney’s Office. While our office has no legal enforcement authority to resolve problems in party primary elections, we will be on standby to assist in any way that we can. We also offer our Elections Hotline number, 800-829-6786, for anyone who wants to report a potential problem on Election Day. If you see a voting irregularity this Tuesday, please give us a call.
Currently, Mississippi has 1,920,958 active registered voters. This number is about 4 percent higher than the number of active voters for the 2016 Presidential Primary Elections (1,848,450). As we continue to meet with Circuit Clerks and Election Commissioners across the state, I’ve noticed a lower than usual amount of absentee ballots returned to Circuit Clerks. In 2016, Circuit Clerks received more than 20,000 requests for absentee ballots. This year, Circuit Clerks have only received about 15,000 requests, and as of March 3rd, 2020, only about 10,500 ballots have been returned to Circuit Clerks.
Voting is a right so many brave men and women fought to secure for us. Sadly, many people in countries across the world are still fighting for the right far too many Americans seem to take for granted. When it comes to issues you find concerning, casting a ballot on Election Day is the most important way to make your voice heard. Whether the issues are about roads, schools, public safety, national security, healthcare, education or taxation — your vote shows who you trust to make decisions that affect your day-to-day life.
Talk to your children about the importance of voting. Lead by example and show them how important the process is by exercising your right to vote on Tuesday. Honor past generations and help inspire future generations by heading to the polls on Tuesday. If you don’t find it important enough to vote for your own interests and concerns, who will?
Michael Watson is Mississippi’s Secretary of State.