No sooner has one election year come to an end than another one begins.
In addition to the huge national election for president, the 2020 ballots in Marion County will include races for U.S. Congress, county election commission and the District 5 seat on the county school board.
In Marion County the first office to begin qualifying is election commissioner. The county has five, and the districts coincide with the Board of Supervisors. All of the commissioners are up for election.
The election commissioner is responsible for maintaining the voter rolls in each district for things such as death of a voter, if a voter has moved out of the district or if the voter was found guilty of a disenfranchising felony.
Other duties include training poll managers and workers, certifying election results after review of all ballot materials, packing supplies and preparing the election sites.
Election commissioners are paid on a per diem basis of $100 a day. Depending on how busy the year is with elections such as primaries, run-offs and general election determines how many days they work. Circuit Clerk Janette Nolan said usually it is at least 100 days of work a year.
Nolan said the law has changed with this election regarding technology. As electronics are becoming more prevalent with elections, commissioners must be able to pass a proficiency exam in computers and technology. They will have to attend a mandatory class on it and will be tested afterward.
The qualifying period has begun and will continue until 5 p.m. June 1. The process of qualification involves receiving at least 50 signatures from registered voters in the district you are running in and turning in the petition with the signatures to the circuit clerk’s office to have the signatures verified.
Once the signatures have been verified, the circuit clerk’s office will issue a certificate of signatures. That document and a statement of intent to run for election commissioner must be filed with the chancery clerk’s office no later than 5 p.m. June 1.
The information packet with the correct forms to qualify is available in the circuit clerk’s office.
In addition the presidential primary election is March 10. The fields have not been set with the qualifying deadline approaching on Jan. 15. President Donald Trump is essentially assured of getting the Republican nomination, while the Democratic nominee remains up in the air between a host of candidates.
If you are not already registered, you can register until 5 p.m. Feb. 10 to vote in the primary. If a person is currently 17 years old but will be 18 years old by the general election Nov. 3, the person can still register and vote in the primary election March 10.
Absentee voting for the primary election will begin Jan. 25.
The only other county position that is open this year is District 5 of the Marion County School Board. Qualifying for the position does not begin until August. Larry Jenkins is the incumbent.
On the congressional level, Marion County voters will help choose two positions: a U.S. Senate seat held by Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives occupied by Steven Palazzo.
Hyde-Smith won a 2018 special election to fill the remaining term of Thad Cochran, and the Republican will now go up for re-election for a full, six-year term. Democrat Mike Espy, whom Hyde-Smith defeated in 2018, has announced he’s running again for that spot.
Palazzo, a Republican from Gulfport, is up for a sixth, two-year term. Carl Boyanton, a Diamondhead businessman, and Samuel Hickman of Picayune, a former intern for Palazzo and a former congressional staffer for U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly of Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District, have filed papers to run in the Republican primary. The qualifying deadline was Friday, which was after press deadlines.