By Bobby Harrison
Four congressional races and a bevy of local judicial elections throughout the state will be on the ballot Tuesday for Mississippi voters. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
The 2022 mid-term elections have been closely watched nationally as Republicans try to wrestle control of the U.S. House and Senate from Democrats. In many states, early voting turnout has been high.
But that is not the case in Mississippi, where no U.S. Senate race will occur and where all four U.S. House races are expected to be won by incumbents or major party favorites. According to data from Secretary of State Michael Watson’s office, the number of absentee ballots requested and returned in Mississippi has been low compared to past elections.
As of Monday morning, according to Watson’s office, 51,849 absentee ballots had been requested and 46,120 had been completed and returned. During the same period in 2020, 248,335 absentee ballots had been requested and 231,031 had been returned to local election officials.
Unlike a vast majority of states, Mississippi does not allow no-excuse early voting. In Mississippi, those over the age of 65, people who are disabled and those who will be traveling on Election Day can vote early in their local circuit clerk’s office or by mail. But those voting by mail must, in many cases, obtain two notary public signatures to complete the process.
Mail ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and returned to the local circuit clerk’s office within five days of the election.
The incumbents in the four congressional races are all heavy favorites to win re-election.
Mississippi congressional races
• 1st District incumbent Republican Trent Kelly faces Democrat Dianne Dodson Black, an Olive Branch small business owner. She is the first African American woman to serve as a major party nominee in the district in the modern era. Kelly, a former district attorney in northeast Mississippi, was first elected in a 2015 special election.
• 2nd District incumbent Democrat Bennie Thompson faces Republican Brian Flowers of Clinton. Flowers, a Navy veteran, works in mechanical planning at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Plant near Port Gibson. Thompson is Mississippi’s longest-serving U.S. House member and chairs the Homeland Security Committee and the special committee that is looking at efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
• 3rd District incumbent Republican Michael Guest, a former district attorney in Madison and Rankin counties, is being challenged by Democrat Shuwaski Young of Neshoba County. Young is running for office for the first time, but has experience working in the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office and in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Guest was first elected in 2018.
• Republican Mike Ezell faces off against Democrat Johnny DuPree in the 4th District. Libertarian Alden Patrick Johnson also is on the ballot. Ezell, the sheriff of Jackson County, defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo earlier this year in the GOP primary. DuPree, former mayor of Hattiesburg, has also run unsuccessfully for governor and secretary of state. In 2011, DuPree became the first African American major party nominee for governor.
The ballot also will include judicial races. Four Mississippi Court of Appeals races are on the ballot. In the only contested Court of Appeals race, incumbent 4th District Judge Virginia Carlton is being challenged by Bruce Burton.