OUR OPINION: Municipal elections offer public issues up close

By NEMS Daily Journal

Eligible Northeast Mississippians in most of our region’s municipalities vote in primaries for city offices on Tuesday, the first ballot in a three-step process leading to new administrations for the next four years, starting in late June or early July.
Runoffs by party primary for all elective positions, as needed, will be held May 21, and the general election is set for June 4.
Municipal elections are intensely local because participation is limited to a relatively small geographic space, and subdivisions like wards often approximate the equivalent of a neighborhood political system, especially in smaller towns.
The rise of a competitive two-party system statewide in some instances has increased the number of candidates seeking nominations, which broadens voter appeal. However, even in larger municipalities like Tupelo some candidates face neither primary nor general election opposition.
Municipal elections bring the priorities of governance close to the people. Nowhere are decisions about the future more important than in towns and cities that feel the impact of every current of change, positive or negative.
The past is not recoverable, but every community’s future is malleable.
History proves that towns and cities seeking only the status quo doom themselves to decline.
Voting helps make progress possible.
It’s never inappropriate to remember that full voting rights for all eligible citizens have been attained only in the past century, and for thousands of African-American Northeast Mississippians, less than 50 years ago.
History won voting rights. Voting empowers the future.
President Lyndon Johnson, in his famous 1965 voting rights speech to a joint congressional session, said, “Every device of which human ingenuity is capable, has been used to deny this right.”
Today, the most common device disempowering voting is not voting by personal choice.
The Daily Journal believes in the power and compelling necessity of voting. We make a major commitment to coverage of campaigns and election results across Northeast Mississippi.
It important, too, to see voting rights as an evolving constitutional and legal process.
Colorado, for example, is on the cusp of approving a voting rights expansion bill that would implement same-day registration and voting, automatically send mail-in ballots to every voter, and create a real-time statewide voter database to prevent fraud. Proponents view the bill, written by a bipartisan group of county clerks, as a national model for other states, published stories noted.
Those promoting the changes said the state could take the lead nationally on making elections more convenient to voters.
Colorado election clerks said switching to mail will mean buying less equipment to operate and maintain for an ever-shrinking number of people who still vote in person. That could save millions of dollars in some counties over a longer period.
Mississippi, moving forward, should at least consider what it can do to make voting easier and more accessible because conditions influencing voting or not voting change, and adaptation is often the better course.