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Posts Tagged ‘UM Votes’

UM Votes: Exploring the Role of Poll Workers

Posted on: February 11th, 2021 by elpayseu

In this blog post, OCE Voting Ambassador Libby Foley delves into the role of poll workers in making elections work. Learn about what is involved in serving as a poll worker and what these volunteers do.


If free and fair elections are the foundation of our democracy, then poll workers are the pillars of that foundation. In recent elections, the job of poll workers have been especially vital to maintaining the integrity of elections. However, what poll workers actually do, how they are selected, and what the requirements of being a poll worker are still a mystery to most people. This blog post will help to demystify the job of a poll worker, and explain how important they are to our democracy.

Who Can Serve as a Poll Worker

Firstly, there is a certain set of requirements that one must meet in order to apply to be a poll worker. In Mississippi, those requirements are as follows:

  • Be registered to vote in Mississippi
  • Be entitled to compensation
  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Be a resident of the county in which you are applying to be a poll worker

An important note is that students that are 16 or older, are enrolled in high school, and have a residency in the county or municipality, may apply to be a poll worker with a recommendation from their principal. 

Application Process

If one meets these qualifications, the next step in the process of becoming a poll worker is applying. To apply, one must fill out the “poll worker portal” on the Secretary of State of Mississippi’s website, or go to the following link:

https://www.sos.ms.gov/Elections-Voting/Pages/PollWorkerPortal.aspx

After applying, and once being accepted, the next step poll workers go through is required training. There are many different duties of poll workers, and many of them are very specific, minute details that must be followed, and extensive training is required to prepare poll workers. 

Once someone has successfully completed their training, they can then work as a poll worker on election days, as long as their training was completed within the 12 months prior to the election they are serving in. In Mississippi, the compensation for poll workers is usually $75 minimum on election days, and could be more depending on the poll workers specific duties.

What Poll Workers Do

Speaking of poll workers duties, now it is time to understand what poll workers actually do. Firstly, there are several different types of poll workers. The different types of poll workers that Mississippi employs are as follows: general poll managers, receiving and returning managers, initialing managers, alternate initialing managers, and bailiffs*. 

General poll workers – According to the Mississippi Poll Manager Guide, commissioned by the Mississippi Secretary of State, the role of the general poll managers is to:

  • safeguard all election materials;
  • ensure only qualified voters are voting;
  • ensure that voters are only voting once;
  • ensuring photo IDs are valid and match the individual;
  • ensuring votes are made in secret,
  • providing voter information and instructions to those in line;
  • assisting voters with questions;
  • completing post-election reporting requirements;
  • and processing absentee ballots.

Thus, there are numerous, very important, duties that poll managers have in general that protect the integrity of an election. 

Receiving and returning poll workers – The Receiving and Returning poll manager has duties that are slightly more specific. Their duties include:

  • obtaining the box(es) for their polling place that contain the ballots and other necessary materials;
  • keeping track of the number of ballots received from the circuit clerk prior to the election;
  • ensure that the ballot boxes are not tampered with;
  • opening the boxes and distributing materials on the morning of the election;
  • sealing the boxes and machines after the election;
  • returning unused ballots to the election headquarters;
  • and processing paper ballots. 

The initialing manager – The initialing manager, who can not be the same person as the receiving and returning poll manager, has the important responsibility of placing their initials in the proper area of each blank ballot, initialing in the receipt book after a voter signs their name, and then giving the initialed blank ballot to the voter. Obviously, these duties only pertain to paper ballots. The alternate initialing manager is responsible for these duties if the initialing manager is not present or not able to perform these duties.

Bailiff – The final poll manager that the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office highlights is the bailiff. This position requires appointment by a party executive committee, election commission, or by the other poll managers. Their duty is to open the polls, keep order in line, line up voters to wait while helping the general poll managers verify identifications, prevent campaigning within 150 feet of the precinct entrance, stand at the end of the line of voters at 7pm and announce the close of the polls while still allowing those already in line to vote, and finally, check credentials of poll watchers. Thus, the bailiff’s duties deal largely with maintaining a productive environment that is free of campaigning, coercion, or voter intimidation.

These different poll workers all play an important role in preventing election tampering, and without them our elections would be chaotic, controversial, and subject to large amounts of corruption. Without poll workers following these specific duties, there can be no election. Serving as a poll worker is among the most selfless and important civic duties one can undertake, and should any of the aforementioned duties interest you, apply to be a poll worker at the following link!

https://www.sos.ms.gov/Elections-Voting/Pages/PollWorkerPortal.aspx

*For DRE/OMR counties, Opening/Closing Poll Manager is also included in their list of poll worker positions. DRE/OMR are certain types of voting equipment, and the opening/closing manager is in charge of this equipment, for the counties that utilize it.

Sources:

 


For your reference:

UM’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture Addresses Voter Suppression

Posted on: November 11th, 2020 by elpayseu

In this post, Andrew Goodman Foundation Team Leader Jenna Santacroce recaps recent events offered this fall through the Center for the Study of Southern Culture addressing voter suppression and voting rights.

The 2020 Presidential election is one of the most monumental in history. The country, so clearly divided and polarized, is experiencing extreme pushback on both ends of the political spectrum. The University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture (CSSC) hosted three virtual events which discussed the ways in which some American citizens cast their ballots without issue, while others are severely affected by “voter suppression.” Voter suppression is any effort to influence the outcome of an election by preventing eligible voters from registering to vote or casting their ballot. Voter suppression, which looks much different now than it does in history, is disguised as an attempt to mitigate “voter fraud,” or illegal interference with the election process by voter impersonation, duplicate voting, ineligible and false registrations, and more. Studies have proven voter fraud to be a rare occurrence, however, by claiming to prevent voter fraud, political leaders are able to establish standards and implement policies that prevent certain individuals from voting. The most affected group of individuals who face voter suppression are people of color. The elderly, students, and people with disabilities are also affected by voter suppression. 

Historian Carol Anderson, alongside other historian colleagues, discussed the history of voter suppression during the Speaker Sessions and Roundtable Discussions hosted by CSSC. They shared that while some groups are affected more than others, voter suppression at large does not follow one specific mode and does not have one specific target. Historically, voter suppression has included outright violence and aggression as well as systematic suppression through government policies. Often, these policies target the most vulnerable (such as the elderly and people with disabilities), or groups that have faced long standing social and political suppression, notably communities of color. Starting after the Reconstruction, southern states began to implicate policies to repress votes, justifying these policies were reasonable for protecting the election. Poll taxes and literacy tests were deemed necessary to fund elections and to provide for an educated electorate, however these laws intentionally overlooked the long standing effects of slavey and poverty, charging disproportionate amounts and ignoring the underfunding of African American schools throughout the south. 

Discriminatory policies escape scrutiny by appearing “universal,” ignoring how one policy will affect groups differently. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 helped to alleviate barriers to voting, especially in the south, by outlawing poll taxes and literacy tests and by monitoring areas known for voter suppression. However, voter suppression continues due to government loopholes and denial of responsibility. Voter suppression today takes on a familiar but different form.

The historians in these CSSC events explained how to identify voter suppression today as it is less blatant and much more covert. Limited access to polling locations is one of the most prominent modern tactics of voter suppression. In Georgia specifically, where CSSC speaker Carol Anderson is from, there are exceptionally long lines at voting stations. This year, the state of Georgia purchased new voting machines despite being advised not to by election officials. The machines were inefficient and created a lengthy voting process by requiring the voter to insert a piece of paper, taking the time to process the paper, then processing the citizens’ votes. Also, these new voting machines were large and only a limited amount were able to fit in voting locations, therefore, only a limited number of people were able to vote at once. The state of Georgia knowingly established a voting system that required voters to wait for hours in lines. People may leave these long lines and tell their friends, family, and communities, inadvertently discouraging them to vote. Carol Ansderson explains these long lines are not accidents and have happened repeatedly in history. These long lines are designed tactics of voter suppression.

New voter identification laws are a heavily debated form of voter suppression. Following the Supreme Court case of Shelby County vs. Holder in 2013, areas with a history of voter suppression are no longer required to receive federal approval for policy changes related to voter eligibility. Similar to using the justification of “universal application” from past policies, voter ID laws are subjective because they can often prioritize access to one type of ID over another, and do not take into account how difficult it may be to receive an identification card due to cost, time, or geographical location. Texas, for example, has allowed the use of firearm registration cards as acceptable voter ID, but has not allowed student ID. This is especially perilous in large states, where citizens may not have easy access to locations to receive adequate identification. The repeal of sections of the Voting Rights Act also led to voter roll purges across the country. Voter roll purges disproportionately target new voters and people of color, by targeting those without a history of repeated voting or by matching voter registration across states by name only, not incorporating any other identifying information. These voter roll purges also removed names if the information did not exactly match information in a state record book, so registrations with minor misspellings or different uses of hyphens were removed.

There is no clear path to remove discriminatory voting laws or practices. There have been calls to create an amendment to the Constitution that guarantees universal suffrage, however one has not been passed yet. The best thing we can do to eliminate voter fraud is to learn about voting rights, and to report states and voting sites that violate these rights. Grassroots organizations and civil rights groups continue to advocate for increased access to voting. The speakers at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture discussions are hopeful that with enough public pressure, we can work towards ensuring everyone has equal access to voting.


For your reference:

Voter Intimidation and Your Right to Vote

Posted on: October 29th, 2020 by elpayseu

In this blog post, Andrew Goodman Foundation Fellow Caroline Leonard shares important information about voter intimidation and your right to vote on Election Day. 

Voter Intimidation and Your Right to Vote

Voter intimidation is illegal in all 50 states. This means that you can not be coerced, threatened, or otherwise swayed to vote a specific way at the polling site. Additionally, many states do not allow campaigning for specific candidates within a certain distance of polling locations. The following information applies directly to Mississippi elections, but information about voter intimidation and armed militias for different states can be found at: Georgetown Law: Protection Against Voter Intimidation and  Georgetown Law: State Fact Sheets. If you want more information, look for the website for your local or state election office.

What voter intimidation can look like:

Voter intimidation is using threats and other intimidation tactics to alter how people will vote or to dissuade or prevent them from voting. Voter intimidation included spreading false information about voting requirements, using verbal threats, inciting or threatening to incite violence, recording information about voters and following them in the polling location, or blocking people from entering the polling location. Additionally, any sort of unauthorized militia is illegal. If you are confronted by an organized group holding weapons, threatening violence, or attempting to act as a militia, contact the authorities.

Furthermore, campaigning, displaying the slogans or likenesses of candidates, or otherwise trying to solicit votes is illegal within 150 feet of a polling location unless it is on private property. Poll watchers may be appointed by individual candidates or political parties to monitor polling sites, however they cannot interact with voters, handle any ballot, or assist in voting. Candidates for office, their immediate relatives, and employers also cannot assist someone directly with voting. These would also be forms of voter intimidation or coercion.

What to do if you feel unsafe:

If you experience voter intimidation there are different steps you can take. If there is immediate danger, call 911. If there is no present danger, notify a poll worker at the polling location, and if they are unable to help you can contact a poll watcher, the circuit clerk for your county, or you can contact the Secretary of State’s office if poll workers or watchers appear biased. Report what happened, when, where, and if there were other voters deterred from voting. If you encounter an armed group, try to take note of any insignias or flags they have, if they are operating in an organized or patrolling way, if they have weapons and what kind, and if they are interacting with voters. However, safety is the top priority. Do not approach the armed group to try and get more information.

There are multiple national election hotlines to call to report cases of voter intimidation, and for general help on the election day:

For English: 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)

For Spanish: 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682)

For Arabic: 844-YALLA-US (844-925-5287)

For Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Urdu, Hindi and Bengali: 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683) 

For a Video Call in American Sign Language:  301-818-VOTE (301-818-8683)

Mississippi Secretary of State’s Election Hotline: 800-829-6786

If you believe your rights have been violated, you can also contact:

The ACLU: 601-354-3408 or letmevote@aclu.org

The US Department of Justice Voting Rights Section: 800-253-3931

 

Your Right to Vote:

You have a right to vote in the county you are registered in free from harassment or coercion. You are entitled to assistance in voting if needed. Additionally, there are a few alternative ballots you may encounter in addition to the standard ballot. These include:

  • Affidavit Ballot: If you do not have a photo ID with you on election day, the poll worker rules your ID to not resemble you closely enough, if you are not listed in the pollbook, or if you have changed addresses (still within the same county) but did not change your listed residence before the election, you can vote via affidavit ballot. If you vote with an affidavit ballot, you will have to go to the circuit clerk’s office within 5 days of the election to show valid ID. You should be given written instruction on how to check if your ballot was counted when you vote.
  • Curbside Ballot: If you are unable to enter the polling location but you are still able to drive to the location on election day, you are entitled to curbside voting. After presenting your photo ID, you will be provided with a paper ballot or a way to electronically cast your ballot from your car. For the 2020 election, you are entitled to curbside voting if you have symptoms of Covid-19.
  • Emergency Ballot: If there is a power outage or if electronic voting methods are otherwise rendered unavailable, voting should continue as normal. Follow the instructions of the poll workers.
  • Spoiled Ballot: If you mismark a paper ballot you are entitled to ask for a new one. Additionally, if your electronic ballot malfunctions, you can ask for assistance or a substitute ballot.
  • Challenged Ballot: On election day, your ability to vote may be challenged. If your voter eligibility is challenged, you still have the right to cast a ballot. In the event of a challenged ballot, a poll worker will pull you and the challenger aside to ask questions about voter eligibility. If the poll workers unanimously decide you are eligible to vote, you can cast a regular ballot. If they unanimously rule you are ineligible to vote, you can still cast a ballot but it will be instantly rejected. If they cannot reach a decision, you will fill out a challenged ballot, and they will decide its validity later on.

 


For your reference:

Serving at the Polls

Posted on: October 29th, 2020 by elpayseu

In this post, Andrew Goodman Foundation Fellow Jenna Santacroce shares several opportunities for students to serve at the polls.

There are more ways to get involved in the upcoming election aside from casting your vote. The Andrew Goodman Foundation Ole Miss Voting Ambassador Team encourages you to consider becoming a poll worker or a poll watcher!

Serving as a Nonpartisan Poll Watcher

If you are a student that wants to contribute to the election but are unable to work the polls in your home county or are not a Mississippi resident, you can participate by becoming a poll watcher.

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund is recruiting nonpartisan poll watchers to report activity that can threaten or intimidate voters and report barriers that limit accessibility to polling stations. Poll watchers can work in any county, but like poll workers, must receive training first. The final training date is Thursday, October 29th. Afterwards, LDF will be in touch with you about poll station assignments and further instructions about Election Day. 

Registration Link

Sign Up to Be an Official Poll Worker

Mississippi’s Secretary of State, Secretary Michael Watson, is seeking the help of Ole Miss students to COVID-19 has inundated our lives with uncertainty since its emergence nearly one full year ago. Secretary Watson and other Mississippi state officials are determined to prevent the virus from affecting these next four years by ensuring a safe and secure 2020 Presidential election. The state of Mississippi is seeking to hire student poll workers to help keep the election process efficient and to maintain the integrity of our democracy.

Student poll workers may be tasked with a variety of responsibilities. As a student poll worker, some jobs you may be asked to assist with include setting up before the polls open, checking in and assisting voters, cleaning polling stations in between voters, or helping close the polls once they close. 

Mississippi student poll workers must be at least eighteen years of age and a resident of Mississippi. Also, in order to work the polls, you must be a registered voter in the county you will work in on election day. It is a full day commitment and you are required to remain at the polling location for the entire time the polls are open.

To apply, you can complete a short application form found on Mississippi’s Poll Worker Portal. Completing your application does not guarantee that you will be hired, nor does it commit you to participate if you decide not to. By completing your application, your request to participate will be sent to your County Circuit Clerk and Election Commission. If your help is needed, these local election commissioners will contact you directly. If you are selected to become a student poll worker, you will be prompted to complete the required training before you serve on election day. 

MS Secretary of State Poll Worker Portal

Other Opportunities

Here are several other opportunities:

  • UM Campus Shuttles – We need volunteers to assist with shuttle service and check-in on Election Day. Sign up here to volunteer.
  • Contact your local county clerk office and offer help. Local election commissioners may need assistance with setting up the polling locations or delivering personal protective equipment.  

The 2020 Presidential election is one of the most anticipated elections yet. It is increasingly important, especially during the time of this pandemic, for this Presidential election to be safe, secure, and accurate as it will influence our lives for the next four years. Contribute to the 2020 Presidential election by doing more than just casting your ballot – apply to be a student poll worker or watcher! 

For more information about county contacts, voter registration, and voter information, visit the Mississippi Secretary of State’s site, Y’all Vote. To stay up-to-date on Mississippi’s latest election initiatives, follow Mississippi’s Chief Elections Officer Secretary Michael Watson on Facebook and Twitter


For your reference:

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.

Background

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.”

VOTE FOR ONE

[] 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

Statewide Ballot Initiatives: Medical Marijuana Initiative 65

Posted on: October 22nd, 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 Katelyn Winstead shares about the MS Ballot Initiative 65 and Alternative Measure 65A, regarding medical marijuana, 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.

Initiative 65 is a citizen-sponsored initiative designed to legalize marijuana for those with “debilitating illnesses” by amending the state constitution. Initiative 65A is an alternative initiative offered by the legislature, with many of the specifics to be worked out later. These options can be confusing for voters, so here is a breakdown of the alternative proposals.

So, what is the difference between Initiative 65 and 65A?

Initiative 65 – Less Restrictive

Both initiatives, if passed, will procure an amendment of the Mississippi State Constitution to legalize medical marijuana. The main difference between the two are the specifications laid out. Initiative 65 will allow patients to attain medical marijuana if they have one of the 22 stated qualifying conditions; patients would be able to have up to 2.5 oz at a time and the sales tax on medical marijuana will be in accordance with the state sales tax which is, as of 2020, 7%. Initiative 65 is projected to collect at least a few million dollars in revenue after assessing the first-year implementation costs. The initiative also states that the Mississippi Department of Health will oversee the medical marijuana program.

Initiative 65A – More Restrictive

Alternative 65A does not specify the qualifying conditions of patients, the limits of possession, tax percentage, nor the fiscal impact that it would have on the state. Alternative 65A does provide zoning laws, prohibiting any medical marijuana treatment center from being within 500 ft. of schools, churches, or child-care establishments. The alternative measure does not give any details as to who would oversee the program but affords that it will be administered under an appropriate state agency. Under 65A, smoking medical marijuana would be limited to only those patients who are terminally ill. If alternative measure 65A is passed, legislatures will have to put in a lot of work to narrow the specifications of the initiative and provide concrete regulations and procedures.

Provision Initiative 65 Alternative 65A
Number of qualifying conditions 22 specified; more may be established at a later date none specified
Possession limits 2.5 ounces at once none specified
Ability to smoke marijuana prohibited in public places restricted to terminally ill patients
Taxes on marijuana sales taxed at state sales tax rate (7% as of 2020) no tax rate specified
Cost for medical marijuana patient ID cards capped at $50 no cost specified
Administrating agency Mississippi Department of Health not specified
Deadline for medical marijuana cards to be issued August 15, 2021 no date specified

(Source: Ballotpedia, 10/22/2020)

What should I expect to see on the ballot?

   

(Source: Mississippi Today, 10/22/20)

On the ballot, you will see that you can first check either Initiative 65 or 65A or against both of the initiatives. If you are for Initiative 65, you will check the box that says either and then select the FOR Initiative 65 box. If you are for initiative 65A you will do the same thing, except you will select FOR Alternative Measure 65A after selecting either. If you are against the passage of both Initiative 65 and 65A, then you will simply select the AGAINST BOTH option.

For a comprehensive analysis of Initiative 65 and 65A, including arguments for each, fiscal analysis, and more check out:


For your reference:

Katelyn Winstead

Katelyn Winstead

UM Voting Ambassadors Virtual Office Hours 10/19-10/23

Posted on: October 20th, 2020 by elpayseu

Prepare to Vote in Election 2020 – National, State, and Local Elections! Our UM Voting Ambassador team is here to help you navigate the voting process, whether you are registered here in Lafayette County or in your hometown/state. We can also walk you through what you need to know for absentee voting and to prepare for in-person voting on Election Day!

No pre-registration is required. Simply click on the timeslot below to access the Zoom link for drop-in hours with our VA team.

Focus: Absentee Ballots & Notary Services (MS or Out of State)
MS Absentee Ballots now available, thru 11/3/20.

Monday, 10/19

10:00 – 11:00    VA: Maggie

1:00 – 2:00         VA: Eric

Tuesday, 10/20

8:00 – 9:00       VA: Morgan

Wednesday, 10/21

11:00 – 12:00    VA: Nick

1:00 – 2:00         VA: Clinton

 Thursday, 10/22

10:00 – 11:00   VA: Katelyn

1:00 – 2:00         VA: Libby

Friday, 10/23

4:00 – 5:00         VA: Madeleine

 


Need other assistance, have technical issues, or want to schedule a one-on-one appointment? Email us at engaged@olemiss.edu.

For your reference:

 

Statewide Ballot Initiatives: State Flag

Posted on: October 20th, 2020 by elpayseu

In the coming posts, UM Voting Ambassadors will be 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 Nick Castellanos shares about the state flag referendum, 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.

History and Process

In June 2020, House Bill 1796 removed the former state flag, which was first instituted in 1894, 29 years after the civil war ended. The former state flag featured a smaller version of the confederate flag in the upper left corner, which eventually led to its removal in June of 2020. <Read more about the removal of the state flag here>

Criteria and Selection

Following House Bill 1796, a Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag was formed, which fielded designs from the public as long as they met the following criteria:
● Simple enough for a child to draw from memory
● Use meaningful symbolism
● Use two or three basic colors
● Be distinctive

The bill stated that:
“The new design for the Mississippi State Flag shall honor the past while embracing the promise of the future.”

The Ballot

The commission narrowed down 3,000 submissions to the following design, which will appear on the ballot like so:

Mississippi State Flag Design

Mississippi State Flag Design

Please vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on whether the following design shall be the official Mississippi State Flag

[ ] YES
[ ] NO

It is important to note that the referendum on the ballot does not involve reinstating the former state flag. If the referendum is voted down on election day, Nov 3rd, the commission will select another flag design, which will be voted on in 2021.


For your reference:

Nick Castellanos

Nick Castellanos

UM Votes – Previewing the MS Ballot

Posted on: October 19th, 2020 by elpayseu

In the coming posts, UM Voting Ambassadors will be 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 Libby Foley provides an overview of the ballot for national and state offices in Mississippi.

Obviously, this election year is very important as it includes the Presidential election. However, there are still Senate and House of Representative elections going on that are worth your attention. Below is a comprehensive list of what will be on the Mississippi Ballot this November, along with a link to a sample 2020 ballot for Mississippi. Be sure to do your research on each candidate before you vote, and choose the candidate that best serves your beliefs!

Out of state students can check their ballots and information here: State by State Voting Guide

How do I research candidates?

Here are several nonpartisan resources for information on these candidates:

Other resources include:

  • Candidate websites
  • Political party websites
  • Issue-based policy groups
  • Local newspapers or media outlets

Presidential Election:

  • Joseph Biden, with Kamala Harris as VP – Democrat
  • Donald Trump, with Michael Pence as VP – Republican
  • Don Blankenship, with William Mohr as VP – American Constitution
  • Brian Carroll, with Amar Patel as VP – American Solidarity
  • Phil Collins, with Bill Parker as VP – Independent
  • Howie Hawkins, with Angela Nicola Walker as VP – Green
  • Jo Jorgensen, with Jeremy “Spike” Cohen as VP – Libertarian
  • Brock Pierce, with Karla Ballard as VP – Independent
  • Kanye West, with Michelle Tidball as VP – Independent

U.S. Senate:

  • Mike Espy – Democrat
  • Cindy Hyde-Smith – Republican
  • Jimmy L. Edwards – Libertarian

U.S. House of Representatives:

(What district am I in? Check online here!)

1st Congressional District

  • Antonia Eliason – Democrat
  • Trent Kelly – Republican

2nd Congressional District

  • Brian Flowers – Republican
  • Bennie G. Thompson – Democrat

3rd Congressional District

  • Dorothy Dot Benford – Democrat
  • Michael Guest – Republican

4th Congressional District

  • Steven M. Palazzo – Republican

NONPARTISAN JUDICIAL ELECTION for Supreme Court Justice

District 1, Position 1

  • Kenny Griffis – Nonpartisan
  • Latrice Westbrooks – Nonpartisan

District 1, Position 2

  • Leslie D. King – Nonpartisan

District 2, Position 2

  • Mike Randolph – Nonpartisan

District 3, Position 3

  • Josiah Dennis Coleman – Nonpartisan
  • Percy L. Lynchard – Nonpartisan

SPECIAL NONPARTISAN JUDICIAL ELECTION for Circuit Court Judge

District 08 Place 1

  • Brian K. Burns – Nonpartisan
  • Caleb E. May – Nonpartisan

Statewide Ballot Measures

Ballot Measure 1:

  • Initiative Measure No. 65, Should Mississippi allow qualified patients with debilitating medical conditions, as certified by Mississippi licensed physicians, to use medical marijuana?
  • Alternative Measure No. 65 A, Shall Mississippi establish a program to allow the medical use of marijuana products by qualified persons with debilitating medical conditions?

Secretary of State Initiative Brochure

Mississippi Today Election Guide

Ballot Measure 2: 

House Concurrent Resolution No. 47- Amendment to propose that to be elected Governor, a candidate has to receive a majority of the votes. If no candidate has the majority, there will be a runoff election, under this amendment. This amendment would also remove the requirement of receiving majority votes for House of Representative candidates.

Mississippi Today Election Guide

Ballot Measure 3:

House Bill 1796 – Flag Referendum

This ballot measure is a vote to approve or deny the new Mississippi State Flag, as pictured below.

Mississippi Today Election Guide


Election Day is November 3rd!

Be sure to make a voting plan, or contact the voting ambassadors at engaged@olemiss.edu if you need help creating one!


For your reference:

Beyond the Vote – Preparing for Post-Election

Posted on: October 13th, 2020 by elpayseu

It’s no secret that the tone of politics has changed in recent years. With things like hyper partisanship and an increasing lack of dialogue between sides, it can be difficult to imagine a world in which your chosen candidate does not win the election.

It’s important, however, to remember that at the end of the day we are all Americans that want the best for this country, and we will continue to live together as a community after Nov. 3rd.

This Election Day is unlike any other because of Covid-19 and increased mail-in voting. It is also likely that we may not know the outcome of the election for several days or even weeks, especially if results are close or challenged in court by either candidate.

Additionally, this election is viewed by many on either side of the political aisle as a high stakes election and tensions seem to be increasing as the Election Day draws near.

So, what can we do? 

The Voter Engagement Roundtable and the Office of Community Engagement have two major ways we are working to cultivate mutual respect and find ways forward together this election season.

Everybody Loves Lincoln

Everybody Loves Lincoln Logo

Everybody Loves Lincoln

Let’s be honest guys, who doesn’t love Lincoln? He was an incredibly wise American president who fought to end slavery and keep America unified. Finally, something Republicans and Democrats can agree on!

That fight for unity and dialogue amidst politically intense times is exactly what we should be looking for this election season.

Join us Tuesday, October 20th, from 6:30-8:00pm for a special evening featuring Comedian Tehran Von Ghasri and a panel discussion around defunding the police or defending the blue. With a little humor and some open minds, let’s show that we can delve into complex issues together, be serious and thoughtful about politics, AND be respectful and civil towards those with whom we disagree.

Tehran Von Ghasri is an up and coming comedian from the Hollywood comedy scene. His background is as diverse as this country: Black and Persian, Muslim and Jewish. He has been featured on HBO, Comedy Central, and Fox. He has been compared to Dave Chappelle meets Maz Jobrani, so the night is sure to be a fun one! You can find Tehran in his hit Comedy Store podcast called Imperfect Gentleman or on social media @IAmTehran.

For more information and registration, visit the event page – Everybody Loves Lincoln

Hold America Together Campaign

Hold America Together logo

Hold America Together

As a way to demonstrate our individual commitment to non-violence and to peaceful post-election season, we invite you to join the Hold America Together campaign hosted by Braver Angels. This trans-partisan group brings together Reds and Blues across the political spectrum committed to preserving our democratic structures and putting the greater good ahead of any political party or platform.

At this moment of danger and in this era of divisiveness, we the American People come together to speak for the Union. Some will vote for President Trump and others for Vice President Biden. But in this season of intense and legitimate partisanship, we commit ourselves also to a higher partisanship, for the maintenance of our Union; for the importance of our shared civil life; and for those feelings of goodwill that Lincoln called the better angels of our nature.

Here is the information you need to participate in the  Hold America Together initiative. Click here to sign the letter. Click here to find out how to organize a group.

With Malice Toward None Initiative and Pledge

“With malice toward none, with charity for all…” – Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865

We have the privilege of living in a democracy, where our ideas and ideals can be shared and exchanged with the constant goal of producing a better republic. Issues, however, arise when our ideas or desires for this country conflict. When this happens its important to remember that moments like this are inherent to democracy, but that at the end of the day we should aim for charity towards our fellow Americans. This can look like a couple of things:

  • Perspective taking
  • Pursuing civil dialogue
  • Exposing yourself to a variety of news outlets

Having to confront a loss on election day is no easy feat. It will be normal to experience feelings of hostility and anger towards the other side or even seek isolation from people who voted differently from you.

The With Malice Toward None initiative through Braver Angels seeks to work against this division by encouraging organizations to hold gatherings for dialogues between both sides in an effort to promote perspective taking and unity. They have a variety of resources and talking points for these gatherings which can be found here (Link: Braver Angels).

There is also a pledge that we would encourage you to read over and see if it is something you would like to sign. The pledge reads as follows:

“Regardless of how the election turns out, I will not hold hate, disdain, or ridicule for those who voted differently from me. Whether I am pleased or upset about the outcome, I will seek to understand the concerns and aspirations of those who voted differently and will look for opportunities to work with people with whom I don’t agree.”

A link to the pledge can be found here (Link: With Malice Toward None Pledge).

With Malice Toward None programming will be held in January, leading up to the inauguration.


Nick Castellanos

Nick Castellanos

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