Senate special election candidate deadline approaching

Published 2:28 pm Wednesday, July 22, 2020

A special election to fill the recently vacated Senate seat for District 39 will take place Sept. 22.

The D-39 seat was previously held by Sen. Sally Doty, of Brookhaven, who resigned in order to accept an appointment by Gov. Tate Reeves to head the Public Utilities Staff. Doty

There is no primary for this election and the filing deadline for candidates is Aug. 3.

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District 39 encompasses Lincoln and Lawrence counties, and portions of Copiah and Walthall counties.

To qualify to serve as a state senator, a person must have been a qualified voter in the state for at least four years, be at least 25 years old, and be a physical resident of the district or territory represented for at least two years prior to the election. Candidates must submit a petition containing signatures of at least 50 qualified voters in the district and pay a qualifying fee of $250 to the Secretary of State’s Office. Candidates must have never been convicted of bribery, perjury or “other infamous crime,” according to Secretary of State Michael Watson’s website, nor a felony, unless he or she has been pardoned for the offense.

The signatures must be verified by the circuit clerk of the county in which the signatures were collected, said Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield. Signatures collected in Lincoln County must be certified by his office, signatures in Walthall County must be certified by the Walthall County Circuit Clerk’s office, and so on. The certified petition must then be physically submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office in Jackson no later than Aug. 3.

This special election is a non-party election, meaning no candidate’s name will be listed with a party affiliation. On the Sept. 22 ballot, the names of qualified candidates will be listed without party affiliation and voters will choose from this list.

If one candidate receives 50% of the total number of votes cast, plus one, he or she will win the Senate seat. If no one candidate receives this many votes, a runoff between the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes will be conducted three weeks later, on Oct. 13.

Qualifying forms for the election can be obtained by candidates online at

“As soon as we have the list of names for those who have qualified, we’ll conduct absentee voting,” said Bairfield. “All 30 polling places in Lincoln County will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. (on Sept. 22), just like any normal voting day.”

As of Wednesday, Bairfield said he knew of a few people who had stated they were going to run for the D-39 seat, but he had certified only one so far — local attorney Jason Barrett.


November’s general election

Beginning Sept. 21, Bairfield said, absentee voting will be available for the general election to be conducted Nov. 3.

In addition to national elections, the November general election will include election commissioners for Lincoln County, one seat on the Brookhaven School District school board, and two seats on the Lincoln County School District school board.

All five election commissioners will be on the ballot, as well as the BSD at-large member and the ED-3 and ED-4 members of the LCSD board.

For Mississippi, at least three ballot measures will also be decided upon:

  • Initiative 65 and Alternative 65A — Will legalize medical marijuana for qualified persons with debilitating medical conditions.
  • State flag referendum — Will ask voters to approve or reject a new state flag design created by the Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag, which may not include the Confederate Battle Flag and must include the words “In God We Trust.”
  • A constitutional amendment to remove the requirement that a candidate for governor or state office receive the highest number of votes in a majority of the state’s 122 House districts (electoral vote requirement) and provides that if a candidate does not receive a majority vote of the people, they will proceed to a runoff election (instead of being selected by a House vote).

Nationally, candidates for U.S. president, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate will be elected. In Lincoln County, Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, from Brookhaven, will be challenged by Democrat Mike Espy for the U.S. Senate, and Republican Rep. Michael Guest, of the 3rd Congressional District, will be challenged by Democrat Dorothy “Dot” Benford.