Updated: Jul 23, 2019
BY CAROLINE CAO
Voting is an important civic duty that gives you the right to decide who takes care of your country, state, city, district, etc. This year, Mississippi has important elections for office seats, from Governor, to the Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Senate, and State House of Representatives, and more. Selecting the people for those offices will impact your healthcare, minimum wages, your environment, and your voting rights as well.
But bear in mind that plenty of politicians deliberately make it hard to vote so they can stay in office. The gutting of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in 2013 made way for voting suppression. You might see voter suppression in poll taxes, lack of early voting, no automatic voter registration, or gerrymandering. These policies obstruct poor people with inflexible work schedules from having a say in their democracy.
And you can fight it, for you, and for them. It starts with registering yourself and being aware.
But How Do I Register To Vote?
Easy-peasy. You can apply through Rock the Vote or the US Vote Foundation. Wait for the forms, fill them, and mail them. Wait for your confirmation form. Registration must be completed 30 days prior to the election.
Mississippi has Pre-Registration, which means that 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the next general election can pre-register to vote. If you’re 17 and will be 18 by the next general election, better apply early than never.
How Can I Verify I’m Registered?
The Y’All Vote allows you to check.
But I’m Out of State So How Do I Vote From Here?
Yes! If you are out of state to go to college or on vacation, apply for an absentee ballot. Pay attention to the dates below on absentee ballot deadlines.
The disabled, elderly, or military persons are also eligible for absentee ballots. If you know anybody who can’t physically go to the polls, provide them a form.
Wait, But Who’s On The Ballot?
Mississippi Today compiled an extensive list. You might want to schedule some time to yourself to evaluate each candidate.
But How Will I Evaluate Each Candidate?
Easy, Google their names and find their campaign websites which lists the issues they care about and their resume. You might want to Google news articles regarding opinion of them and their policies.
You might contact your local nonpartisan League of Women Voters - Mississippi chapter for voting guides on their policies.
I Am Disabled Or Know Someone Who Is. How Will I Find Assistance?
Where Do I Find My Polling Location?
It’s important to plan ahead. Check here.
TIP: If you know anyone who shares a polling station with you, suggest you carpool with them and chip in for gas. Carpooling saves money and reduces traffic. The more friends packed in the car, the merrier!
What Do I Have To Bring To The Polls?
Photo ID. Typically that would be your driver’s license or passport. Or these other IDs.
What Are Poll Times In Mississippi?
Poll times: 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
What If I’m Late To The Poll Lines?
Lines are annoying. Good news, if you are in a line by the time the polls closes, STAY IN LINE AND YOU SHOULD CAST YOUR VOTE FINE. Polls are obligated to remain open until the lines are finished.
FUN FACT: The nonprofit Pizza to the Polls allows you to report long poll lines and get pizza sent there.
If you are in line to vote when your polling place closes, and anyone tries to keep you from voting, contact the Department of Justice Civil Rights Department at (1-800-253-3931), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or submit a complaint on their website. You can also call the non-partisan voter protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) if your rights have been violated, or you saw someone else's were.
What Dates Do I Have To Keep Track Of This 2019?
July 29 - Unfortunately, registering to vote in time for the Mississippi Primary has passed (and Mississippi needs Election Day Voter Registration to assuage this problem). But you can still vote in Primary Runoffs (that is, if there is one) if you register by this date.
August 6 - Primary Election time!
August 26 - Absentee Ballot Return Deadline for Primary Runoff
August 27 - Primary Runoffs will occur on this date
October 6 - Absentee ballots available for General Election
October 7 - Register by this date to vote in the state's General Election.
November 5 - General Election! Time to pick the Mississippi’s governor and other office seats.
What Are Voting Rights Resources In Mississippi?
These resources may assist you. They also might have open volunteer positions in order to fight voter suppression.
What About General Voting Rights Resources?
National Voter Registration Day - Register your business or organization to hold a nonpartisan National Voter Registration Day event.
American Association of People with Disabilities REV UP Campaign - To increase the political participation of the disability community while also engaging candidates and the media on disability issues.
More voting info at www.yallvote.sos.ms.gov. Call the Secretary of State's Election at 1-800-829-6786 for more assistance.
Caroline Cao is a writer for SlashFilm. She loves ramen, movies, theatre, and Star Wars. Her mission is to write children's books and fight voter suppression and eat lots of ice cream.