November’s complicated ballot may give MS voters extra “homework”

NEMiss.news Complicated ballot may require homework of voters
Union County Circuit Clerk Phyllis Stanford, left, and election commissioners Wes Creighton, center, and Bill Azlin test voting machines.

This November, Mississippi voters will face a complicated ballot that will require more decisions than who is going into what political office.

By now, most people know they will be voting on a president along with other state and local officials in November However, three other measures have been added to that ballot that may not be quite as familiar.

Questions that could stump an unprepared voter involve the state flag, medical marijuana, and a proposed constitutional amendment on how state officials are elected.

State Flag

The one that has received the most publicity lately, of course, is the choice of a new state flag.

Between now and Nov. 3 a commission appointed by state officials will consider proposed designs to replace the state’s now-abandoned flag that incorporated the Confederate Battle Flag.

The public may submit designs and hold meetings on the issue. The main requirements for the new flag are that the old Confederate design not be used and the new design must contain the phrase “In God we trust.”

The deadline for the commission to submit a design is Sept. 14. More information can be obtained from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

One new design will be chosen for presentation to the voters. They will be able to vote to either accept or reject the proposed design.

If there are enough “yes” votes, the design will be adopted. If the “no” votes prevail, the commission will go back to work and come up with another design to present next year.

Proposed change in MS Constitution: How state officials are elected

One June 29, the MS Legislature approved a proposed constitutional amendment to be on the complicated ballot November 3rd.

In a law that goes back to Reconstruction times, the candidate for governor or other state-level officials (Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Commissioner of Agriculture, and Commissioner of Insurance) must not only receive a majority of votes, but also must win in a majority of the state’s 122 House of Representatives districts. This is essentially the electoral college system.

Currently, if a candidate for one of the included offices does not win in a majority of House districts, it falls to the House of Representatives to choose the winner. They may pick whomever they want.

If the amendment is approved by voters in November, the system will change for future elections, beginning with gubernatorial and statewide office elections in 2023. If a “winning” candidate for a state-level position does not get a majority of the people’s vote, a state-wide run-off election will decide the winner of the election – not the House of Representatives. For details, see: BallotPedia

Medical marijuana

The third initiative on the complicated ballot concerns the use of medical marijuana by qualified patients only, and may be the most confusing since it is in two parts.

In Part I there are two alternatives from which to choose. Voters may select:

  • “Either” (voter favors SOME form of legal medical marijuana)
    • Voters choosing “Either” must vote in Part II for their “either” vote to be valid.
  • Neither” (voter wants NO legalized medical marijuana.)
    • Voters choosing “Neither” may vote in Part II to indicate their preference in the event some form of legal marijuana is approved in Part I.

Regardless of which choice is made in Part I, the voter then goes to Part II, deciding which alternative is preferred in the event the measure does pass.

  • Initiative 65, which was public-supported, would allow medical marijuana treatment for a list of 20 specified qualifying conditions. Individuals could have up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana at a time and would have to buy it, paying a seven-percent retail sales tax on it.
  • Alternative 65A, added by the legislature as a second choice, would restrict smoking marijuana to terminally ill patients. Only pharmaceutical-grade marijuana products could be used and treatment would have to be supervised by licensed physicians, nurses and pharmacists. Other particulars, such as amounts allowed and taxes, would later be determined by the legislature.

If the “either” choice receives the most votes in the first part, whichever second part receives the most votes will be adopted, as long as it receives at least 40 percent of the total number of votes cast in the election. For more details on Medical Marijuana vote:  BallotPedia

Offices to be voted on

Elective offices on the ballot will be U.S. President, U. S. Senator, U. S. Representative, Supreme Court justice, five election commissioners and one county school board trustee.

The presidential race presumably will primarily be between incumbent Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden.

One US Senate race will be on the ballot to permanently fill the seat now temporarily held by Cindy Hyde-Smith. That ballot will contain:

  • Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith, who filled the unexpired term of Thad Cochran
  • Democratic challenger Mike Espy
  • Libertarian challenter Jimmy Edwards

Our other senator, Roger Wicker, was elected to a new six-year term in 2018.

Incumbent Republican U. S. Representative Trent Kelly will also be on the ballot. He will be challenged by Democrat Antonia Eliason.

A race that most have little familiarity with is for seats on the state supreme court. Four justices will see their terms expire at the end of this year, but only one will be on the ballot here. That’s the District 3 Place 1 seat now held by Josiah Coleman. Since this is a non-partisan race it was not on earlier party ballots.

Union County races

Locally, Union County Circuit Clerk Phyllis Stanford said all five incumbent election commissioners qualified for re-election and are unopposed so they will serve another term.

They are Wes Creighton, District 1; Bill Azlin, District 2; Barbara Reed, District 3; Mike Beam, District 4; and Wayne Wilhite, District 5.

The only county school board seat to be voted on is that held by incumbent Wayne Mahon. He represents Union County School District 5, which does not have the same boundaries as Union County Supervisors District 5.

County school board candidates have only a one-month window in which to qualify, from Monday, Aug. 5 to Friday, Sept. 4.

It also appears that the City of New Albany will have one office up for election Nov. 3

That’s for the New Albany Municipal Separate School Board seat representing the so-called “added territory.” That includes an area outside New Albany City Limits that is still in the city school district and is mostly on the northeast side of the city, stretching nearly to Pleasant Ridge.

David Rainey currently holds this seat, having been elected in 2016. Only those living in the added territory may vote in the election. The other four city school board members are appointed by aldermen, one from each ward.

The general election will be Tuesday, Nov. 3. If a runoff is needed after that it will be Tuesday, Nov. 24.

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NEMiss.NEWS is a locally owned and operated online news magazine containing news, information, opinion, etc. of interest to residents of Northeast Mississippi. NEMiss.NEWS was founded in 2014 and is a division of Shivimage, LLC, and began publishing in early 2015. read more>>

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