What to expect in Mississippi’s general election on Tuesday

Tuesday is Election Day in Mississippi, and Republican Gov. Tate Reeves’ bid for a second term tops the list of statewide and local contests that voters will decide.

Reeves, who was first elected in 2019 after serving two terms as lieutenant governor, faces a challenge from Democrat Brandon Presley, a state utility regulator and cousin of rock ’n’ roll legend Elvis Presley. Reeves was elected in 2019 with 52% of the vote, a surprisingly narrow margin in a reliably Republican state.

Presley has stayed competitive in the race in terms of campaign cash. With help from a sizable cash infusion from the national party, he brought in more money to his campaign than Reeves and has essentially matched him in spending. However, the incumbent entered the final stretch of the campaign with more money in the bank.

Democrats had a stranglehold on the Mississippi governorship for almost all of the 20th century, but Republicans have controlled the office for the last 20 years.

Also on the ballot is the race for lieutenant governor, with Republican incumbent Delbert Hosemann facing Democrat D. Ryan Grover. In August, Hosemann survived a bitter primary challenge from state Sen. Chris McDaniel.

State Senate and House seats are also up on Tuesday, but Republicans enjoy a solid majority in both chambers.

Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:

Election Day

Mississippi will hold its general election on Tuesday. Polls open at 7 a.m. and close statewide at 7 p.m.

What on the ballot?

The Associated Press, with its stories appearing on sunherald.com, will provide coverage for 55 races in Mississippi: governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, agriculture commissioner, insurance commissioner, public service commissioner (Central), two transportation commissioner positions (Central and Southern), 30 state House seats and 14 state Senate seats. The Sun Herald will provide coverage of local races in Harrison, Hancock and Jackson counties.

Who gets to vote?

Any registered voter in Mississippi may participate in the general election. The registration deadline was Oct. 10. Mississippi does not allow Election Day registration.

Decision notes

For the first time, the gubernatorial race in Mississippi is subject to a Nov. 28 runoff if no candidate receives a majority in Tuesday’s election. A potential delay in reporting a final winner may be in determining whether a candidate has cleared the threshold needed to avoid a runoff. This remains a possibility since there will be three candidates listed on the gubernatorial ballot.

If the leading candidate hovers near the 50% mark, the race might not be called until additional votes are counted.

There are no automatic recounts in Mississippi.

What do turnout and advance vote look like?

As of July 28, there were 2.1 million voters registered in Mississippi. The state does not register voters by party. Turnout in the 2019 general election was 43%.

Relatively few Mississippi voters cast ballots before Election Day. The state does not allow in-person early voting and allows absentee-by-mail voting only for those who provide a valid excuse. In last year’s midterm elections, only about 7% voted by absentee ballot.

How long will it take to count the vote?

In the 2019 general election, the AP first reported results at 8:12 p.m. ET. The election night tabulation ended shortly after 1:30 a.m. ET with 95% of the votes counted.

See related story inside today’s Sun Herald with a list of local races.