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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

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Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A New Plan for State and County Elections

Mississippi elects its state and county officials at the same time, and the next such elections will be in 2011. In a number of our counties, all or most of the candidates for county offices run in one party's primary. In Hinds County, for example, the county races are decided in the Democratic primary, so anyone who votes in the Republican primary misses out on voting for county officials. The reverse is true in neighboring Rankin County, where the county races are decided in the Republican primary, and anyone voting in the Democratic primary misses out on choosing county officials.

Tennessee does not have this problem, as it holds party primaries for county offices several months earlier. The county primaries are in May, while the state and congressional primaries occur in August. The Volunteer State, like Mississippi, does not register voters by party, and a voter may cast a ballot in one party's primary in May and the other party's primary in August (Tennessee, incidentally, does not have party runoff [or second] primaries).

The general election for county offices is held in August, at the same time as the party primaries for state and congressional offices. The general election for state and congressional offices, of course, takes place in November.

Putnam County, whose seat is Cookeville, is located in northern Middle Tennessee. Its county commission-- comparable to Mississippi's board of supervisors-- in an effort to save money, is asking the Democrats and Republicans not to hold primaries in May 2010. The commission says the last primaries cost the county $60,000. Each candidate for county office would instead qualify for the August ballot as an independent, which requires 25 signatures on a petition.

There is a way that all Mississippi voters could cast a ballot in the party primary of their preference for state offices and still choose among ALL the candidates for county offices. This plan would also potentially make campaigns for county offices less expensive, while assuring that all county officials are elected with 50-plus percent of the vote.

Click here to see how this plan would work.

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