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Deadline approaching to register for presidential primary

The voter registration deadline for the statewide Democratic and Republican Presidential primary elections is fast approaching.

County residents who will be 18-years-old on or before the general election day Nov. 3 are eligible to vote in the primary elections on March 10. The deadline to register for that election is Feb. 10. Representatives from the Pearl River County Circuit Clerk’s office will visit all three local high schools to help younger voters register and give them information on the upcoming election, said Circuit Clerk Nance Stokes.

Independent candidates will not be on the ballot until the general election in November. On the ballot are candidates who represent the Democratic and Republican parties in the presidential election, the race for a United States Senate seat and for U.S. House of Representatives 4th Congressional District. When they go to the polls, voters decide whether they want to vote in the Democratic or Republican primary.

Absentee voting began Monday, said Stokes, and the Circuit Clerk’s office will be open the Saturdays of Feb. 8, Feb. 29 and March 7 from 8 a.m. to noon, to make it easier for voters to find time to register or cast an absentee ballot ahead of the election.

Voter registration can be completed with a mail-in application or in person. In-person registrations must be completed by Feb. 10, and mail-in applications must be postmarked Feb. 10.

Democratic Primary

Presidential candidates in the Democratic primary are Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.

Candidates for United States Senate in the Democratic primary are Tobey Bernard Bartee, Jensen Bohren and Mike Epsy.

Republican Primary

Presidential candidates in the Republican primary are Roque ‘Rocky’ De La Fuente, incumbent Donald J. Trump and Bill Weld.

The only Senate candidate in the Republican primary is current Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith.

Candidates for U.S. House of Representatives 4th Congressional District are Carl Boyanton, Robert L. Demining III, Samuel Hickman and incumbent Steven M. Palazzo. The Democratic primary has no candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, so the winner of the Republican primary will run unopposed in the general election.

Voter turnout

Turnout is typically higher in a presidential election year, said Stokes, although primaries usually have lower voter turnout than a general election.

Pearl River County’s election turnout for the presidential primaries in 2016 was at 33 percent with 10,847 ballots cast, which is much higher than the 2018 primary when only 10 percent of registered voters cast 3,509 ballots.

The 2019 general election had a 39 percent voter turnout where 13,154 ballots were cast. This is a lower turnout than the 2018 general election in which 16,090 ballots were cast, making up 34 percent of registered voters in the county. The number of registered voters in the county increased in 2018 from 32,564 to 47,311, so even though more people voted in that election, a lower percent of registered voters participated. The number of registered voters in the county was back down to 33,063 by 2019’s general election.

The 2016 general election had 19,520 ballots cast, which means that in the last presidential race 57 percent of the county’s registered voters cast ballots.

To learn more about voter registration, contact the Circuit Clerks office at 601-403-2328 or visit yallvote.sos.ms.gov.