November 5, 2012 10:19:36 AM
Mississippi voters are preparing to choose one U.S. senator, four U.S. House members, four state Supreme Court justices and one judge for the state Court of Appeals.
They'll also decide whether Democrat Barack Obama or Republican Mitt Romney will collect the state's six electoral votes for president. At least 270 electoral votes are needed to win.
Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
People won't be required to show identification because the federal government hasn't decided whether to approve Mississippi's proposed voter ID law. Because of Mississippi's Jim Crow history, it needs federal clearance for any changes to voting laws or processes, and the U.S. Justice Department said in October that it needs more information about the state's proposal.
Because of the lack of approval, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has said no ID is needed Tuesday.
However, Republican Gov. Phil Bryant said this past week that he thinks it would be good for people to voluntarily show photo ID at the polls. Tea party members had suggested doing so to protest the lack of a decision by the Justice Department.
"If you have to show a ID to buy a pack of cigarettes or to buy alcohol, which you should, then certainly you ought to have to present an ID to vote, so that we are certain that you're not stealing someone else's liberty and their chance to vote," Bryant said.
The chairman of the state Legislative Black Caucus, Democratic Sen. Kenny Wayne Jones of Canton, said the governor's comments were careless.
"As elected officials, we are responsible for providing clear, concise and accurate information to our constituents, not our opinions," Jones said. "This type of misleading information coming from the governor of our great state is confusing and intimidating to voters in an already fragile process."
Mississippi has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980, and the campaigns spent little time or money in the state this year, compared to the attention lavished on battleground states like Ohio and Florida.
Republican Roger Wicker of Tupelo has been in the Senate since the GOP's Trent Lott resigned in late 2007 and is now seeking a full six-year term. He is challenged by Democrat Albert N. Gore Jr. of Starkville, a retired United Methodist minister and retired chaplain for the U.S. Army Special Forces; the Constitution Party's Thomas Cramer of Vancleave, a retired employee for defense contractors; and the Reform Party's Shawn O'Hara of Hattiesburg, who has run unsuccessfully for multiple federal, state and local offices the past 20 years.
Winners of the U.S. House races get two-year terms.
In north Mississippi's 1st Congressional District, Republican first-term incumbent Alan Nunnelee of Tupelo is challenged by Brad Morris, an attorney and businessman from Oxford; Libertarian Danny Bedwell of Columbus; the Constitution Party's Jimmie Ray Bourland of Columbus and the Reform Party's Chris Potts.
In 2nd Congressional District, which encompasses the Delta and most of Jackson, 19-year Democratic incumbent Bennie Thompson of Bolton is challenged by Republican Bill Marcy of Vicksburg, who's a former Chicago police officer; and independent Cobby Mondale Williams of Canton, an urban planner.
In the central 3rd Congressional District, Republican Gregg Harper of Pearl, who was first elected in 2008, doesn't have a Democratic opponent. His only challenger is the Reform Party's John "Luke" Pannell.
In the southern 4th Congressional District, Republican first-term incumbent Steven Palazzo of Biloxi is challenged by Democrat Matthew Moore, who's a community college student; Libertarian Ron Williams of Moss Point, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2011 as a Republican; and the Reform Party's Robert Claunch of Diamondhead.
The state has one uncontested race in the Supreme Court's central district, where Justice Leslie D. King of Greenville is running.
There's one contested race in each of the three Supreme Court districts -- northern, central and southern.
The seat in the northern district is coming open because Justice George Carlson isn't seeking re-election. Running to succeed him are Josiah Dennis Coleman of Toccopola and Richard "Flip" Phillips of Batesville.
In the central district, Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. is challenged by Earle Banks, a state representative. Both are from Jackson.
In the southern district, Justice Mike Randolph is challenged by Talmadge Braddock. Both are from Hattiesburg.
The only Court of Appeals contest is in a district that includes the Delta and most of Jackson. Judge Ermea "E.J." Russell of Flora is challenged by Ceola James of Vicksburg. Barbour appointed Russell to the Court of Appeals in 2011 to fill a vacancy created when he promoted King to the Supreme Court. Tuesday's special election is to fill the final four years of the Appeals Court term King started.