Municipal Elections on Horizon

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Monday marked the first of 10 meetings that will be held around the state to refresh municipal election officials about old laws and update them on new ones.

City clerks and election commissioners from throughout east Mississippi gathered at East Mississippi Community College Monday for the training, which is sponsored annually by the secretary of state's office.

One of the topics of discussion was voter fraud. To help further combat this, organizers say more steps are being taken to implement the federal Help America Vote Act, which passed in 2002.

"We are in the process now of collecting all the voter rolls from the 82 counties and we'll compile that into an electronically database in Jackson that will be accessible to each county," says Michael Boyd, who is the director of election administration for the Mississippi secretary of state's office.

Boyd says those who would have priority in obtaining this information would be circuit clerks and election commissioners as part of an ongoing effort to cleanup voter rolls statewide.

Officials from the state attorney general's office were also on hand for the meeting where they talked with us about efforts being made to punish those who buy votes.

"We've had convictions for vote buying recently in Mississippi, for the past couple of years. Of course, you can be fined and jailed for those. It's not a laughing matter and if we can prove it in court, we're going to convict you and send you to jail," says Reese Partridge, who's with the Mississippi attorney general's office.

In fact, he says two such convictions occurred within the last six months in North Mississippi.

Meanwhile with the statewide qualifying deadline, for people seeking to run for municipal offices such as for mayor, city council, and board of aldermen, set for March 4. There are also some other important dates that you need to remember:

The deadline to register to vote in municipal primary elections is April 2 at noon. This will be followed by statewide primary elections on May 3 and the general election on June 7.