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Free Citizen

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

Name:
Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

1-Party County Elections in a 2-Party State

Next Tuesday, South Carolina will hold its party primaries for federal, state, and county offices. Voters in some counties there will have to make a choice similar to the one that many Mississippians have to make every four years.

"Voters may have to make a choice between voting in statewide races of their choice, and voting in local races.

"At the local level, Chester County has a long history of being a Democratic county. Contested races are contested in the primaries, almost always. The winner of the primaries usually faces no GOP or independent challenges, so he or she wins the election, by default.

"But there is a long list of candidates on the GOP ticket. Four people are running for governor. Three people for lieutenant governor and six, yes six, people for education superintendent.

"If you want to vote in one of those races, but you also want to vote for County Supervisor, you’re out of luck. You have to make a choice. You cannot vote for both."


In Hinds County, seat of Mississippi's capital of Jackson, the races for county offices are decided in the Democratic primary. So any Hinds Countian who votes in the Republican primary misses out on voting for county officials (in 2007, for example, there was a hot race in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor between Phil Bryant and Charlie Ross).

In neighboring Rankin County, the reverse is true. Almost all of the candidates for county offices run in the Republican primary, so anyone who chooses a Democratic ballot doesn't get to vote for county officials (in 2007, Rob Smith of Rankin County ran in the Democratic primary for secretary of state).

The writer in South Carolina makes a suggestion that would also solve Mississippi's problem: Change to nonpartisan elections-- popularly called "open primaries"-- for county officials. Unlike in South Carolina, Mississippi citizens can make this change through a ballot initiative.

This has been a recurring issue in the Magnolia State for many years. Along about this time next year, many of our people will again be fired up about it.

When are we going to actually DO something about it?

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