djr-2021-02-03-news-throughfare-vote-twp4

A file photo of Tommy Chandler casting his vote in Tupelo's Major Thoroughfare Program in early February of this year. 

The first round of voting for municipal candidates will take place in a little over a month on April 6 for party primaries. There are three candidates running for mayor and more than 20 candidates running for the Tupelo City Council. 

With elections only weeks a way, here are answers to some common questions about primary elections.  

When is a primary election and what will be on the ballot?

Party primaries are elections by the local political parties to nominate candidates for the general election ballot. Winners, or nominees, of the Republican primary and the Democratic primary will compete against one another in the general election, which takes place on June 8.

In Tupelo, primaries are on Tuesday, April 6, and most candidates running for mayor and the Tupelo City Council will be on the ballot.

On Election Day, polling precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Some voters can also vote by absentee on the days leading up to election day.

Do I have to register with a political party to vote in the primary?

Mississippi is an open primary state, meaning you are not required to register with a political party to vote in the primary election. But you must choose to either vote in the Republican primary or the Democratic primary during an election cycle.

If I’ve voted in a Democratic primary in the past, can I vote in the Republican primary this year, or vice versa?

Yes, voters are free to vote in different primaries each election cycle. However, you must stick with one party throughout the duration of the primary election. For example, if voters in Ward 1 choose to vote in the Democratic primary, they cannot vote in a potential runoff election for the Republican primary. You also cannot vote in one party primary for city council and another party primary for mayor.

What is a runoff election?

A runoff election occurs when no candidate on the ballot receives an outright majority — or more than 50% — of the votes cast in a particular race. This can happen when more than two candidates are competing in one primary election. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, then the top two vote earners will compete in a separate election, called a runoff election. Any runoff elections will take place on Tuesday, April 27.

How do I know which ward I live in?

The best, safest way to know in which ward you live is to call the municipal clerk’s office at either 662-841-6505 or 662-841-6506.

Below are a picture of Tupelo’s ward map and a list of all the voting precincts for you to gain a general idea.

A precinct map of the city of Tupelo provided by the Tupelo Municipal Clerk's Office.
A list of municipal voting precincts provided by the Tupelo Municipal Clerk's Office.

How do I know which precinct to go to on election day?

Again, the best way to truly know which precinct you vote at is to ask the municipal clerk’s office inside City Hall. You can either go in person or call them at either 662-841-6505 or 662-841-6506.

Do I go to the same precinct I go to for presidential, statewide and county elections?

Not necessarily. Municipal elections are administered by the city, not by county officials who conduct county, state and federal elections. So for municipal elections, residents will vote at city precincts and not county precincts. While a city precinct can be at the same location as a county precinct, they are not always. This can be confusing, so voters are encouraged to consult the ward and precinct map, the precinct list and contact the municipal clerk’s office to be sure.

What do I need to bring with me to vote?

The main thing you need to bring with you to vote is a valid form of photo ID to verify yourself to poll workers. Mississippi has a voter ID law that requires voters verify their identity to vote. The Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office website has a list of all the forms of photo ID that are acceptable.

How do I find out which candidates are running for office?

The best way is to first find out what ward you live in, which will tell you which candidates are running to represent you on the city council. Once you’ve done that, the city has released a sample ballot of the candidates running in each ward. The mayoral election applies to the entire city, but the city is divided into different districts, called wards, for the city council. So different areas of the town vote for different candidates for the city council.

A sample ballot for Tupelo primary elections broken down by wards.

What does it mean to vote by absentee?

By Mississippi standards, voting by absentee is done when someone is unable to cast a vote in person on election day. Eligible Tupelo residents can vote by absentee by going to the municipal clerk’s office inside City Hall on 111 Troy St. or by requesting a ballot by mail by calling the clerk’s office at either 662-841-6505 or 662-841-6506.

How do I know if I can vote by absentee?

The best way to see if you can vote by absentee is to check with the municipal clerk’s office at either 662-841-6505 or 662-841-6506. Mississippi has some of the most restrictive absentee voting laws in the nation and has no system for early voting, meaning that only a small number of people are eligible to vote by absentee. Some of the legal excuses for voting by absentee are being out of town on the date of the election, being 65 or older, being a college student, or being permanently or temporarily disabled.

Do independent candidates participate in party primaries?

No, because independent candidates are not affiliated with a political party, they bypass primaries and head straight to the general election.

What happens after the primary election?

If no candidate in a crowded primary receives a majority of the vote, then the top two vote earners will head to a runoff election on April 27. Once the party primaries have nominated candidates, the nominees will compete in a general election on June 8.

If readers have other questions they would like to see answered, please email questions to taylor.vance@djournal.com or news@djournal.com

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