Voting in municipal election still almost nonexistent so far with election two weeks off

City Hall voting booth
March 23rd, 2021     Government & Politics

With municipal Democratic and Republican primaries two weeks away, campaigning appears to be picking up but voter interest has not.

Campaign signs are proliferating somewhat and candidates have been seen in various parts of the city seeking support.

But as of Monday, New Albany Municipal Clerk Frankie Roberts said only 15 people have cast absentee ballots and about four have requested main-in ballots.

That’s about three-tenths of one percent of the registered voters in the city. This close to the past November general election more than 10 percent of those registered had cast votes. That higher percentage was likely affected by interest in the races plus a reluctance to vote in person and risk exposure to the COVID-19 virus.

Anyone who is qualified may cast an absentee ballot at City Hall until noon Saturday, April 3. Roberts’ office will be open from 8 a.m. until noon that Saturday for the convenience of last-minute absentee voters.

A qualified voter can also cast an absentee vote by mail. He or she needs to request a ballot from Roberts, who will send an application and ballot with instructions.

The April 6 primaries are actually held by the Democratic and Republican parties and not the city. Their purpose is to choose party nominees who will be on the general election ballot June 8.

In a change this year, the primaries, runoffs if needed and general election will all be held at the renovated community center on Wilson Street, off South Central.

It’s because the primaries are political party functions that voters will have to choose which one to participate in. Choosing either does not have the effect of making one a registered party member in Mississippi.

To avoid a runoff, one candidate must receive at least a simple majority of the vote April 6. If that does not occur, the candidates with the top two vote totals will face each other in a runoff.

And if there is a runoff needed April 27, voters must stay in the same party’s runoff. If a person did not vote April 6 at all, then he or she can choose either runoff.

The general election ballot June 8 will include a mixture of Democratic, Republican and Independent candidates and voters can choose any combination they wish. There will be no runoff; whoever receives the most votes wins.

Voters in almost all municipalities in the state will choose nominees for mayor, alderman and, in a few cases, police chief in the April 6 party primaries. At one time, the office of municipal clerk here was elective as well.

The practice of electing a chief of police or city marshal appears to be fading away. Of the state’s 275 police chiefs, only nine are still elected according to the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police.

In addition to New Albany, Aberdeen, Amory, Baldwyn, Brookhaven, Corinth, Iuka, Nettleton and Okolona still elect their chiefs.

New Albany has aldermen from each of four wards plus one alderman-at-large representing the entire city. Once the city reaches 10,000 population the number of aldermen will increase to seven, although they does not appear likely for several more years.

A properly registered voter can cast an absentee ballot early for reasons including:

  • The voter’s being outside of his or her home county on Election Day.
  • Being a student, teacher or administrator at a school whose studies or employment there necessitates absence from the voter’s home county on Election Day.
  • Being the spouse or dependent of such voters above.
  • Being disabled.
  • Being the parent or spouse of a disabled person hospitalized outside the county and more than 50 miles away on Election Day.
  • Being 65 years old or older.
  • Being required to work Election Day throughout the polling hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Anyone with questions may call Roberts at 662-534-1010 or go to City Hall.

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