Getting a lot of attention before the November 5 General Election is a highly-contested gubernatorial race at the top of the ballot and some local races that are still up for grabs. However, there also is a very important race for a position that handles a multitude of tasks, especially with elections, and it is an open seat this year.
With Secretary State Delbert Hosemann running for lieutenant governor, the SOS is an open seat for the first time since 2007. Democratic nominee Johnny Dupree, the former mayor of Hattiesburg, and Republican nominee Michael Watson, a three-term state senator, are vying to succeed Hosemann. For almost four decades, the office has been held by only three people -- former Secretaries of State Dick Molpus, Eric Clark, and Hosemann.
The secretary of state’s office has a wide-range of duties. The office publishes and compiles the Blue Book known as the Official and Statistical Register every four years. Being a collector of these volumes has brought me in contact with the secretary of state’s office on many occasions over the years.
It is also the office where candidates file campaign reports and businesses file documents of incorporation. The office also regulates charities, securities, pre-need funeral plans, perpetual care cemeteries and relationships between sports agents and athletes. The office oversees public-land leases, which generate money for schools.
It needs to be kept in mind with this office, there could be some big issues coming in the new term that begins January 2020 -- including whether the new secretary of state will push for online voter registration for new voters and if so, will there be assurances that cybersecurity wouldn’t be compromised. Also, there is a possibility that the secretary of state’s office will take over the responsibility of issuing driver’s license that is now provided by the Department of Public Safety.
It could also be on the horizon for a push for open primaries. The argument here is where voters won’t be torn between voting for a candidate for sheriff in one primary and governor in another primary.
Next door neighbor, Louisiana, who just voted last Saturday, has in place where they put all candidates on a single ballot for the first round and if no one garners a majority there is a runoff.
I remember back in the late eighties there was a gubernatorial candidate that brought up Mississippi changing our election days to Saturday from Tuesday as our neighbor state does.
Even though secretary of state is considered a down-ticket race on the ballot, it is important and doesn’t have much of a turnover in the occupant of that office as history shows. However, it has a multitude of tasks that affects our citizens, and this year is an open seat.
Absentee voting is going on now, for an abundance of election information I encourage you to visit the secretary of state’s website at http://www.sos.ms.
Ken Strachan serves as the mayor of North Carrollton.