Thursday, October 19, 2023

OPINION COLUMN: We are doing our part, now it’s time for Mississippians to do theirs.

Since taking office as Mississippi’s 36th Secretary of State, following three terms in the Mississippi Senate, safeguarding Mississippi elections has remained a priority.

We have delivered on implementing additional safeguards, and will continue to do so, including preventing private money from being used to fund election administration, implementing multiple procedures to ensure only U.S. citizens are voting in Mississippi elections, gaining authority to conduct post-election audits, and codifying voter roll maintenance practices. We have more confidence than ever that our elections are some of the cleanest in the nation.

Additionally, we secured annual Elections Support Fund (ESF) increases to each county and a one-time $3 million disbursement split between all 82 counties to administer elections, strengthen cybersecurity, train local elections officials, and many other important functions. We also ensured all voting machines had a voter-verifiable paper ballot and implemented a grant program to help counties purchase machines with this capability.

I’m proud of our work to reaffirm for Mississippians the vote they cast is the vote that is counted; however, we haven’t stopped there.

Through many initiatives like the Voter Registration Roadtrip in conjunction with National Voter Registration Month, the SOS Student Ambassador Program, our Elections 101 campaign, and the newly created My Election Day online resource, our office has tirelessly worked to ensure all Mississippians legally entitled to cast a ballot are easily able to do so, understand their rights as voters, and are aware of elections dates and deadlines.

Even with these efforts, turnout for the primary election was a dismal 30% of registered voters, marking the lowest statewide turnout since 2007, despite having over 255,000 newly registered voters since 2020.

We are doing our part, now it’s time for Mississippians to do theirs.

As a reminder, elections directly affect every part of our daily lives. The roads on which we drive, the amount of taxes we pay, how many days our children go to school, regulations on our healthcare workers, all are controlled by the people we elect. Whether you show up on Election Day or not, a decision will be made as to who will be creating, regulating, and enforcing laws at both the state and county levels.

I encourage each of you, regardless of the number of contested races on the ballot, to show up on Election Day to ensure you have a voice in who will be making decisions impacting you. Make your plans now for Election Day, or with absentee voting underway, cast your absentee ballot today, if eligible.

Should you have questions or would like more information, please reach out to our Elections Division at or call the Elections Hotline at 1 (800) 829-6786.

Watson signature
Secretary of State
State of Mississippi