Voting is your right, so register

Published 7:00 am Thursday, January 2, 2014

By Agnes Wilkerson-Dalton

Guest Columnist

In the election cycle, 2014 brings national mid-term elections for U.S. House of Representatives and one of our U.S. Senate seats. The House seat in this area is the 4th Congressional District seat held by Steven Palazzo. The Senate seat is a statewide seat held by Thad Cochran. These are our representatives in Washington, D.C.

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During an election year, we turn our attention to voter registration and turnout. Registering to vote is a citizen’s right and represents your voice in how our government operates. There are many ways to register in Mississippi. The Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Human services ask if you want to register to vote when you renew your drivers’ license or apply for public assistance. The most direct way to register is to visit the Circuit Clerk’s Office in Picayune or Poplarville and fill out the form. If you do not have a proper picture ID, a visit to Poplarville is required since that is the location of the equipment to produce the free ID.


No matter where you register, you will receive a voter registration card. The Clerk’s office will mail the card to the address you provided on the registration form. This process can take a while depending on when the forms were given to the office. At our registration drives, we recommend you wait a month and if your card has not arrived, then call the Clerk’s office. Your registration form must be returned to the Clerk’s office no later than 30 days before a scheduled election for you to vote in that election. The voter card contains important information we will handle later.


Any person 18 years old or older may register to vote. There are some citizens who will not be allowed to register due to a felony record. This is called disenfranchisement and has created confusion. That confusion has kept eligible voters from registering. There are 22 specific crimes for which you will be prevented from registering. These crimes must have been committed in Mississippi. If it occurred elsewhere or is a federal crime, you can register to vote. None of the crimes involve narcotics.


There are many other issues surrounding your right to vote. Many people do not understand congressional districts. Each state is assigned members of the U.S. House of Representatives based on population. Mississippi has four districts. Pearl River County is one of 14 counties in the 4thCongressional District.


On Jan. 16, our County Executive Committee will host the first meeting of the 4th Congressional Caucus for 2014. All Democrats are invited to attend. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. at the New China Buffet in the Stage Shopping Center on Memorial Blvd. in Picayune. You are welcome to dine with us beginning at 5:30 p.m. There will be representatives from most of the counties and our State Party Chair Rickey Cole. Watch for further notices in the Community Events section of this paper.