Desoto County News

Voters urged to Make It Your Business and vote

No doubt you’ve heard the phrase, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.” It suggests that those who speak up or complain the most tend to receive attention or assistance. Whether it’s in a group discussion, customer service, or negotiations, this phrase highlights the idea that assertiveness can lead to favorable outcomes. 

DeSoto County voters may consider being inspired by the phrase and speak up in future elections by being at the polls and voting. That’s because the county’s “wheel” hasn’t been too “squeaky” lately.

That is shown by the number of DeSoto County voters who have participated in recent elections. Checking voter summaries from past elections, voters do come out to vote but it’s not been a consistent thing.  

Nearly 62 percent of eligible DeSoto County voters came to the polls to cast a ballot in the 2020 presidential cycle election, when current President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump ran against each other. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith and U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly were also up for election, as were Election Commissioners and a School Board member.  

However, two years later in a non-presidential election, the county turnout dropped to 27.9 percent and was 29.82 percent in the general election of 2023. The turnout was actually as low as 5.2 percent in the June 2022 primary, albeit a primary that only had candidates running for their party’s nomination for Congress on that ballot.  

In the March primary in 2024, the voter turnout was 13.94 percent. In a county of nearly 200,000 residents, there were 124,321 registered voters who could hve taken part, but only 16,727 actually voted in the election.   

Given the candidates and issues expected to be on the ballot in the November 2024 vote, a return to 2020 levels can be expected and at the least, hoped for. But even that level means over a third of the eligible voters in DeSoto County are registered but would still not choose to mark a ballot. 

What that means is a vote not being cast, a voice not being heard, and a decision not influenced by an electorate that has one of the strongest potential voices of anywhere in the state.  

Especially in Jackson and at the State Capitol, legislators know they need a strong backing from their constituents back home to get bills passed and action taken to benefit their districts.  

In other words, the DeSoto County “wheel” needs to be a lot “squeakier.”  

The Southaven Chamber of Commerce believes the “wheel” can be more noisy on Election Day and is looking to the business countywide community to help.

The Chamber has a Community and Government Relations Committee made up of members from different business backgrounds, all working to help DeSoto County have more influence in government. The committee has started a push to get business more involved with an initiative they call “Make It Your Business.” Expect to see that phrase being used a lot in the months ahead of the election and expect it to become a hashtag on social media, #makeityourbusiness. 

Local financial advisor Matt Kelso is the chairman of the committee.  

“With DeSoto County, we have the second lowest turnout county in the state and I believe the incentives haven’t been there for us or we haven’t been properly represented in years past,” Kelso said. “It could be a combination of the two but the issue remains. When election seasons roll around we wait on the sideline or tend to get our news from Memphis which tends to not share about what we need to hear.”

Chamber Executive Director Debbie King said her organization wants to be a resource for voting information, saying it regularly fields calls from residents who don’t know where to find that information.  

“We would send them to the DeSoto County website, which is wonderful, but it takes several clicks to find what you were looking for and then for them to find who’s running updated,” King said. “You know, it was just a lot of people were struggling, they would call back and go, saying, ‘I didn’t find it there. I’m not sure what I’m looking for.’”

The committee has a page on the Southaven Chamber website where important links are centralized, such as county candidates, voter registration and precinct locations. The link to the voter precincts also will have sample ballots once they are available.  

“We wanted to compliment what the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors are doing on their website for the residents and help election commissioners when they have their hiring for the polls,” King said. “Our committee really wanted just to be able to roll up our sleeves and help all the efforts in what they’re already trying to do.”

With Make It Your Business, a coordinated push to promote voter turnout, providing information and detailing the reasons why voting is important will be presented in a non-partisan way. 

King pointed to the state Legislature’s vote to continue the Penny for the Parks local tax program as an indication that business and government working together can accomplish something positive for the community.  

“It almost went away and the Mayor and business leaders all kind of stormed the Capitol to go down and discuss how removing that was going to impact the state through DeSoto County because we are one of the largest contributors of sales tax and tourism tax,” King explained. “For us to continue to be the Front Porch of Mississippi, it was crucial for us to be able to continue those taxes for us to incentivize and improve things in Southaven.” 

Kelso said business can take the initiative and find ways to encourage and reward employees who do vote on Election Day.  

“DeSoto County has a huge voice and say in our State but we keep quiet with one of the sacred Democratic rights many people have fought to receive,” Kelso said. “Make it your business to vote! Make it your business to let your workers off or give an extended lunch hour! Make it your business to find local news sources who inform you on our candidate choices! Make it your business because it is.”

Following is information about the Nov. 5 general election: 

Voting registration deadline is Oct 7. Here is a link to the application: 

Absentee voting starts on Sept. 23.

  • 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday thru Friday
  • 8 a.m.- 12 noon on Saturday, Oct. 26
  • 8 a.m.- 12 noon on Saturday, Nov. 2

More information about Absentee voting can be found at the bottom of this website 

For those interested in working on election day, we have an online form that can be filled out. 

Here are the following qualifications to be a poll worker on Election Day.  

  • Must be a registered voter in DeSoto County
  • Must be able to attend 4-hour mandatory training provided by the Election Commission. (Will be conducted sometime between the end of Sept and the first of October.)

If anyone has moved recently, the voter needs to make sure their voter registration is up to date by calling the Circuit Clerk’s office at 662-469-8007

For voters to locate their voting precinct, they can visit and type in their address.

Note that Sample Ballots will not be available until sometime in September.