Diversity and Community Engagement
The University of Mississippi

Posts Tagged ‘Jaycee Brown’

UM Votes: Gear up for the 2021 Municipal Elections

Posted on: April 1st, 2021 by elpayseu

In this blog post, Voting Ambassador Jaycee Brown shares information on local municipal elections, how you can learn about candidates, timelines, and more!

“Every election is determined by the people who show up.” -Larry J. Sabato

We experienced a dynamic Presidential Election last fall. We saw millions of people exercise their right to vote during the challenging times of COVID-19. The data is still being collected, but we know that voter turnout was high and historical.

Now it’s time to bring that same passion and energy to our local elections because municipal offices affect our lives on a daily basis. Our cities have primary oversight of policing, K-12 schools, affordable housing, and public transportation. They’re directly responsible for serving the community. They decide what issues to prioritize and how to approach them.

Due to the lower turnout in local elections, that means your vote matters even more! Some of these elections come down to a few votes. In 2017, a Virginia state legislative election tied.

Control of the House of Delegates was determined by drawing a name out of a bowl.

In the 2018 elections, the voting rate at The University of Mississippi waas 27.5% which was an increase from 2014. However, we can do better. I challenge you to know who’s on the ballot, explore their platforms, even grab a friend to learn about this important election with you.

Finding local election information can be difficult and it varies by city.

Here are some helpful tips from Ballotpedia for your search:

  1. Use a variety of search terms (e.g. city council, alderman, mayor, local election, municipal, +your voting city/town)
  2. Read local news sources (the local newspaper could be a great starting point because they usually interview candidates for stories)
  3. Try direct outreach (e.g. calling city clerk)

This Secretary of State Municipal Packet has more information and resources for municipalities (pages 344-382), including the contact information for the city office and the list of those holding offices.

How can you get involved?

  • Get registered for the general election
  • Research candidates
  • Sign up for voting text reminders (Text @32h8c3 to 81010)
  • Phone Bank with MS Votes
  • Apply to be a 2021-22 UM Voter Ambassador

Election Dates:

  • April 6, 2021: Municipal Primary Election
  • April 27, 2021: Municipal Primary Runoff Election
  • June 8, 2021: Municipal General Elections

Although the registration deadline has passed for the primary election on April 6th, there is still time to register for the municipal general elections. The deadline to register is May 10th.

If you need assistance with getting registered or have any other questions, feel free to contact our voter ambassadors at engaged@olemiss.edu.


For your reference:

Jaycee Brown

UM Votes: Understanding Municipal Goverment

Posted on: March 31st, 2021 by elpayseu

In this blog post, Voting Ambassador Jaycee Brown, explores municipal government leading up to our local municipal elections this year. She breaks down different types of municipal government and how they function here in Lafayette-Oxford. 

Presidential Elections receive global attention, and there is usually a higher percentage of voter turnout than state and local elections. The upcoming municipal elections are critical. These
positions affect our lives daily, from the small things like how much we pay for parking to more significant issues like affordable housing. Many students are uninformed on what municipal elections encompass and the importance of them.

Municipal elections vary by the historically five governance forms. The different forms have separate approaches to the structure of government in a city or town. The forms include Council-Manager, Mayor-Council, Commission, Town Meeting, and Representative Town Meeting. You can learn more about these here.

The most prevalent governance forms in Mississippi are Mayor-Council, Council-Manager, and Commission. Municipal offices include but are not limited to the Mayor, Board of Alderman, and City Council. The Board of Alderman represents different wards or districts. For example, Oxford has six wards that include several parts of the city.

The excerpt below is taken from the City of Oxford’s webpage:

“The Board of Alderman is composed of seven members with one alderman elected at-large. Both the Mayor and the Board are elected for four-year terms. The mayor has the superintending power of all the officers, employees, and affairs of the city. Additionally, a chief operating officer and chief financial officer assist with day to day operations of the city and its staff.” The Board meets every First and Third Tuesday of the month at 5:00 pm. These meetings are live-streamed and can be found on the city’s YouTube page.

Oxford can be described as a Mayor-Alderman form of municipal government. This is synonymous with the Mayor-Council dynamic. A mayor is elected by voters as well as alderpersons, who serve as spokespersons for different regions. Responsibilities of the mayor include administrative and budget oversight. The council serves as the legislative body, and the mayor (executive branch) is tasked with carrying out the council’s policies. There are variations among the Mayor-Council government depending on the scope of authority. There can be strong or weak Mayor-Council dynamics that affect the characteristics of power/governance.

The mayor and council/alderman usually share responsibilities such as administrative duties and budget planning. They work together to come to decisions. For example, they agreed to uphold the Governor’s mask mandate lift and discussed other aspects that followed that ruling during their board meeting on March 2, 2021. They discussed the reserved curbside parking spaces and
sign ordinances. That shows how our local governments affect everyday aspects of our lives.

As noted, municipal governments can vary and confuse voters. Hopefully, this information serves as a starting point for those who want to learn more about small government functions.
Mississippi uses three general forms: mayor-council, commission, or council-manager government. The easiest way to find your form of government is to call your local circuit clerk or city hall. You may even notice the similarities between the forms mentioned and how your city, town, or village operates. It’s essential to be informed on the municipal elections because those who hold those offices shape our lives in many ways.

If you’re interested in learning more about municipal governments, feel free to reach out to our Voter Ambassadors. You can email engaged@olemiss.edu for more information.


For your reference:

Jaycee Brown

Statewide Ballot Initiative:  Resolution No. 47

Posted on: October 23rd, 2020 by elpayseu

In this series of posts, UM Voting Ambassadors are previewing what is on the Mississippi ballot, so that you understand the offices, the statewide ballot initiatives, and your choices as you prepare to cast your vote. In this post, Voting Ambassador Jaycee Brown shares about the Resolution No. 47, regarding statewide elected offices, one of three statewide initiatives on the ballot. For those voting out-of-state, please reference our State by State Voting Guide for information on your ballot.


McLemore v. Hosemann, a federal lawsuit filed by four African-Americans on May 30, 2019, challenged the electoral requirement on the grounds that it was racially discriminatory and violated the Voting Rights Act. It aimed to block this law for the 2019 gubernatorial election; however, it was denied. This lawsuit was backed by the National Redistricting Foundation.

The amendment was introduced as House Concurrent Resolution 47 on February 17, 2020 and was passed to be certified for the ballot.

What’s on the Ballot?

House Concurrent Resolution No. 47 aims to remove the election law that requires a candidate for governor or elected state office to receive both the popular vote and the majority vote of the Mississippi House of Representatives.

This is how it’ll appear on the November 3, 2020 ballot:

“This amendment provides that to be elected Governor, or to any other statewide office, a candidate must receive a majority of the votes in the general election. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes, then a runoff election shall be held as provided by general law. The requirement of receiving the most votes in a majority of Mississippi House of Representatives districts is removed.”


[] YES

[] NO

It’s important to focus on the last sentence because that’s essentially what you’re voting on.

Marking yes means that you support removing the requirement of receiving the most votes in a majority of Mississippi House of Representatives. You also support the establishment of a runoff election if no candidate receives a majority vote.

Marking no means that you oppose removing the above electoral vote requirement and establishing runoff elections for governor and state offices.

Source: https://ballotpedia.org/Mississippi_Ballot_Measure_2,_Remove_Electoral_Vote_Requirement_and_Establish_Runoffs_for_Gubernatorial_and_State_Office_Elections_Amendment_(2020)

For your reference:

Jaycee Brown

UM Faculty and Students Lead Voter Engagement Efforts

Posted on: October 19th, 2020 by elpayseu

This blog post is a recap of the Office of Community Engagement (OCE) Faculty Lunch & Learn session on 10/12/2020.

Dr. Na Youn Lee, Prof. Amy Fisher, and Ms. Patricia Digby along with panelists Tanya Rhodes Smith, Austin Conner, and Jaycee Brown, joined us for the second session in our Faculty Lunch & Learn series on October 12 to discuss the impact of the Voter Empowerment Project, a student-led research project to increase voter participation in rural communities while also giving social work students hands-on, educational experiences in the field.

Created in 2019, the Voter Empowerment Project (VEP) partners with local and nationwide organizations like MS Votes to assess voter needs and barriers to voting, a large part of the reason some people neglect their right to vote. “The practice of voting is very complex,” says Smith, co-founder of the National Social Work Voter Mobilization Campaign. “These systemic barriers create and reinforce engagement barriers.” These barriers create attitudes within communities that voting is practically useless. Projects like the Mobilization Campaign and the VEP are aimed at identifying and addressing these barriers.

In partnership with the Mobilization Campaign, the VEP trains social work students on the importance of voting and voter engagement, especially in the framework of the social work profession. Before, according to our panelists, voting engagement had not been a central focus in the social work profession, but the Voter Empowerment Project is just one of many rising efforts to bring attention to the importance of voter engagement in social work.

Fisher, associate professor of social work at the University of Mississippi, describes the three levels of social work focus: micro, mezzo, and macro. She explains that the VEP is simultaneously working at both the micro and macro levels of social work. While the project is intervening at the community level, there is also the central question of how to get the individual to the polls despite these barriers

To find engagement barriers, participants like Conner, a doctoral social work student, went into communities on election day in 2018 and evaluated polling locations in different areas. Students conducted a needs assessment within rural and nonrural communities to compare the barriers that Smith discussed and found a real need for accessible voting policies.

Dr. Lee, assistant professor of social work at the University of Mississippi, says that the VEP created an almost immediate increase in voter awareness, at least in the preliminary evaluation stage. Among social work students, this project had already begun to change attitudes toward voter engagement as social work and voter engagement as a whole. “They never thought about voting as part of the social work mission,” says Lee, “It was very overly positive.” Other analysis and evaluation is still ongoing, but this trend is an exciting one for both Lee and Fisher as political advocacy becomes a more prominent focus of social work across the country.

If you would like to watch the entire session, it is available on our YouTube channel, and be on the lookout for our next Lunch & Learn session coming soon.