Voters will cast ballots Aug. 6 to determine the top Democrat and Republican candidates, not just at the county level but at the state level, who will advance to November’s general election to not just face each other but those running in other parties.
“We are concerned about educating our workforce, where our children are going to work, our great culture here, how we promote business and ensure our children get educated and our roads get fixed. The answers to all of those questions begin at the ballot box,” said Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman. “It is my view that the State of Mississippi is run in the counties, not in the Capitol. The most important people to me are the mayors, the boards of supervisors, the sheriffs, the clerks and others. They make Mississippi run on a day-by-day basis.”
The majority of candidates in Monroe County are running on the Democrat ticket, but a few races including sheriff, tax collector, districts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 supervisor, District 1 justice court judge and District 1 constable will be decided in November as Republican and Independent candidates are certified in those races.
Democrat-only races that will be decided either Aug. 6 or through the Aug. 27 runoff will be coroner, county attorney, districts 2 and 3 justice court judge and District 3 constable.
“On August 6, if you vote Democrat, you’ll have to vote Democrat in any August 27 runoff. It’s the same with Republican. If you vote Republican August 6, you vote Republican in any August 27 runoff. You’re not registered by party; you tell poll workers if you want to vote Democrat or Republican,” said Monroe County Circuit Clerk Dana Sloan.
Incumbents running unopposed include Sloan, chancery clerk Ronnie Boozer, tax assessor Mitzi Presley, District 2 Constable Ron West and county surveyor Keith Ashley Eaton.
Sloan said voters can vote for the candidate in any party they choose for the November general election because there will only be one ballot. People are allowed to not vote in any particular race on the ballot, and their ballots will still count. Once a ballot has been cast, it can’t be changed.
“I believe all politics are local and that the ballot box is the one that determines the rudder of the ship,” Hoseman said.
Across Mississippi, there approximately 1,800 voting precincts, and Monroe County has 26 of them. Polls at the precincts will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“Even if people don’t understand that the ballot box is the start of every decision that’s made in Mississippi, from constable to governor, even if they don’t believe in that, we had 4,500 members of the [Mississippi National Guard] 155th go overseas for a year, and they were mainly stationed in Kuwait. I went to see them to cast ballots last year and visited with a lot of them. When you think about people taking a year off to go put their lives in danger so that we can have the ability to get in our truck and go cast a ballot in less than five minutes, it seems to me that it’s hard to justify not voting,” Hoseman said.
Monroe County’s average voter turnout in the past 27 years has averaged 47 percent of registered voters participating in county elections and 76 percent for presidential elections. Hoseman said statewide the last time there was a primary, there was a 14 percent turnout and 66 percent voter participation for the presidential election.
“There are some key components to that. If you have a contested sheriff’s race, you’ll have a higher turnout. This year, we’ll have multiple gubernatorial candidates on both sides, attorney general candidates, multiple lieutenant governor candidates, there’s lots of reasons why people should cast a ballot.
“The reason you need a big turnout is that gives the person who is elected the ability to govern. If I’m elected with 50.1 percent, and my opponent was 49 percent and we had 25 percent of the people vote, I don’t have a mandate to govern in the way I campaigned. In some ways, people don’t care enough to come cast a ballot for me, and it was evenly divided so I’m just a placeholder for four years until we figure out where we’re going,” Hoseman said.
Since Jan. 1, 806 people have registered to vote in Monroe County. For Tuesday’s primary, Sloan wants to remind voters of a few aspects.
“It’s a county election, so there will be long lines. It’s a long ballot, and it will take a little longer to vote. There are so many races,” she said.
She reminds anyone who has moved since the last election that they must vote at their new polling place rather than their previous one. Voters are reminded to take a picture ID to their precinct to vote also.
Sloan also wants voters to know only one person is allowed in the voting booth at a time. As far as write-ins, they only count if there’s a death, withdrawal, removal or resignation of a candidate.
She also encourages people to study the sample ballots at the voting precincts. Anyone wishing to see sample ballots ahead of time may come to the circuit clerk’s office, located at the Monroe County Courthouse alongside Chestnut Street in Aberdeen.