Mississippi voters will go to the polls this week on Nov. 7 to elect their new governor, attorney general, state senator, House legislators and other officials in statewide, regional and legislative elections. This major election follows voters’ emergence in the August 2023 party primaries, which low voter turnout allegedly marred.
“Unfortunately, the turnout for this primary election was approximately 30% of registered voters, the lowest statewide turnout since 2007, despite the promising absentee-ballot numbers and the work we’ve done registering and educating voters across the state,” Republican Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson wrote in his September 2023 newsletter. Low voter turnout threatens Mississippi’s democracy, delegitimizes the government and affects minorities.
Legitimacy resides with the people, and they can give or withdraw it at any time without notice, depending on the prevailing circumstances. Even in a truly representative government, legitimacy can be withdrawn due to poor government policies and programs.
It is even more worrisome if there is no legitimacy from the beginning. That will make implementing some policies and programs difficult or nearly impossible for elected officials. This can lead to political strife and the inability to provide security, resulting in the loss of life and property. It can also increase unemployment, affect the education and health sectors, block access to basic social amenities like roads and water, and stall the area’s overall development. “With legitimacy at the heart of state-building, its absence (or loss) is likely to lead to a collapse of public institutions and the ultimate failure of the state,” independent scholar Tarek Abou Jaoude wrote in June 2022.
“Get out and vote to exercise your democratic right,” Duvalier Malone writes. “Your ballot is not merely a personal privilege, but a precious instrument that shapes our collective future.” Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
Low voter turnout affects minorities. For example, in Mississippi alone, 853,627 adults, representing 35% or 1 in 3 adults in the state, are living with disabilities, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. These people are already marginalized in all spheres of national life, including the country’s electoral system. They face various voter suppression tactics,
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