Lincoln Co. woman petitions open primaries - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Lincoln Co. woman petitions open primaries

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BROOKHAVEN, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A Lincoln County woman fed up with the state's current closed primary election system wants to change how Mississippians vote.

She's starting out small, but is hoping her effort pays off for others looking for the same change.

"It's just wrong. It's just wrong on so many levels," is what Marla Nottingham said.

To Nottingham, each signature is a step in the right direction.

"So many people that I've talked to are just frustrated," said Nottingham.

Armed with just a pen and paper, this Lincoln County woman is starting a grassroots effort, taking to the streets.

"I've had nothing but excellent reaction."

Hoping to change Mississippi's closed primary election system which requires voters to choose a political party before they cast a ballot and then only vote for candidates within that party.

Nottingham said, "The fact that I'm an independent and I was made to choose a party at this election last week really bothered me. I believe that I should vote for the man or woman that's running for office on their merits, not on their party affiliation."

In the few days she's been circulating her petition, more than 500 people already agree with her. 

The list is growing with folks like Patsy Moak who wasted no time in adding her name to the list. "I think it's a great idea to be like Louisiana. Flip-flop and you can vote for any party," said Moak.

So far, Nottingham is a one-woman show, hoping her petition will spread across the state and accomplish something once in the spotlight before.

State lawmakers have taken up open primary legislature in the past but it never made it in to law. Through Nottingham's petition, the hope is to circumvent the legislative process altogether.

 The justice department struck down the legislature's attempts. By creating a voter initiative, Nottingham hopes the decision will be left in the hands of voters.

Nottingham said, "People have to have the right to choose. They have to have the freedom to vote the way they want to and not be told you have to pick one or the other."

From feed stores, to small town restaurants, it's a petition process Nottingham says she'll continue to fight for, one signature at a time.

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