The 2020 General Election in Mississippi will be held in November 3. The polls will be open from 7 a.m until 7 p.m. on that Tuesday. Absentee voting has been underway, but for those planning to vote in-person there have been a few changes.
What you need to know before you go vote:
Voting in-person will be slightly different this year due to the health concerns of COVID-19. According to Secretary of State Michael Watson, the greatest impact these changes have had, has been on absentee voting.
“To start, the absentee voting exception for those with a temporary or permanent physical disability, which was already an eligible excuse for mail-in absentee voting, now includes, but is not limited to, those who are under a physician-imposed quarantine, or those who are caring for a dependent who is under a physician-imposed quarantine, due to COVID-19. Mail-in absentee ballots may be received up to five business days after the election if the envelope is postmarked on or before Election Day. Additionally, absentee ballots will now be the final vote,” said Watson.
That means, voters who cast an absentee ballot will not show up on voter rolls on Election Day.
He also urged Mississippians to check where their polling place is this year, as some have been moved or consolidated to allow for social distancing guidelines to take place. You can find that information HERE.
Every precinct will be equipped with hand sanitizer, pens or styluses, germicide spray and masks for anyone who needs them. Poll workers will also be required to wear a mask to enter. However, voters will not be required to wear one.
You can find the newly adopted rules HERE.
“None of us could have ever predicted we would be voting for these measures during a global pandemic, but each of us has the opportunity to ensure this election is not used as an open door for fraud or political chaos. While state and county election officials continue to work together to uphold the integrity of our election process, I encourage all voters to develop a voting plan that aligns with your health and safety needs, as well as state laws,” said Watson
What you can expect to see on the ballot:
This year, as most know, there is a Presidential election on the ballot. However there is also a U.S. Senate seat, 4 Congressional seats, several Supreme Court Justices to be elected, a circuit court judge election, a special legislative election, and multiple ballot initiatives.
You will have the chance to vote for ONE in each section.
The front runners of the Presidential race have been made known by the Republican and Democratic parties. President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are running for reelection, while former VP Joe Biden is running for President and Kamala Harris is running for VP on the Democratic ticket.
Voters will also have numerous other choices to vote for from the American Constitution, American Solidarity, Independent, Green and Libertarian parties.
Three of Mississippi’s four Congressional seats are being contested. Current Congressman Trent Kelly (R) is challenged by Antonia Eliason (D) for the First District. In District 2, Brian Flowers (R) is running against incumbent Congressman Bennie Thompson (D). District 3 has Congressman Michael Guest (R) running for reelection against Dorothy Dot Benford (D). District 4 Congressman Steven Palazzo (R) was not challenged for his seat this year, but will still appear on the ballot.
The Central District (D1) has the opportunity to elect a new Justice for Position 1. Justice Leslie King who currently holds Position 2 does not have an opponent in the race. The Northern District (D3) will also have a race on the ballot. Mike Randolph in Position 3 for the Southern District also does not have an opponent. These elections are non-partisan.
Justice Kenny Griffis is running against Judge Latrice Westbrooks for Position 1 in the Central District. Justice Josiah Coleman for Northern District Position 3 is challenged by Percy Lynchard for the spot.
Judge Brian Burns and Caleb May are running against each other for the Circuit Court Judge in District 8, Place 1.
If you live in the Pine Belt, you could see House District 87’s special election on your ballot. Three men have qualified for the race to replace Billy Andrews. They are Matthew Conoly, Joseph Tubb, and David Morgan.
Possibly the most confusing items on the ballot will be the medical marijuana initiatives.
Initiative 65, which was authored and put forth by the people through the referendum process, will appear in conjunction with Initiative 65A, a measure created by the Legislature. Initiative 65 would put forth a program to legalize the sale of medical marijuana in the state. Initiative 65A would allow the Legislature to create their own program. Both initiatives differ on what that looks like.
The questions on the ballot will first ask, if you are for or against the approval of either of the initiatives. The second question will then ask you to clarify which initiative you are in favor of.
Also on the ballot is HCR 47, which provides an amendment that could change the way in which the Governor and any other statewide officials are elected if they do not receive the majority of the votes. Currently a tie, or lack of majority, is decided by the Mississippi House of Representatives. This resolution would remove that provision and take it to a runoff.
Last, but certainly not least, is a vote on the design for the new Mississippi state flag. Proposed by the Mississippi Flag Commission, the design of the new state flag featuring the magnolia, will be on the ballot. Mississippians will vote “YES” or “NO” on the design.
If the flag does not get a majority of votes, it goes back to the drawing board.
SAMPLE BALLOT BELOW: