The Jackson Free Press is hearing about a number of Election Day issues that seem to be associated with the use of new voting machines. This morning, the Jackson Free Press received a tip about issues at Ward 7′s Precinct 97 in south Jackson, located at the Wahabi Shriners, 4123 Interstate 55 S. The precinct is supposed to have one voting machine to read hand-marked ballots and count the votes. The machine, which poll workers said was scheduled for delivery at 6:15 a.m., didn’t show up until 8:43 a.m., nearly two hours after the polls opened. And then it didn’t work. In April, after a months-long process, the Hinds County Board of Supervisors agreed to a $1.2 million five-year contract with Electronic Systems and Software for new voting machines. Headquartered in Omaha, Neb., ES&S also holds a contract with the Mississippi secretary of state to facilitate overseas and military voting.
Articles about voting issues in Mississippi.
Mississippi: Federal suits filed over voter rolls in Jefferson Davis, Walthall counties | The Clarion-Ledger | clarionledger.com
A nonprofit group has sued the election commissions in Jefferson Davis and Walthall counties in federal court, claiming each county has more registered voters on the books than residents eligible to vote. The American Civil Rights Union filed both lawsuits in U.S. District Court late last month, asking the court to declare violations of the National Voting Registration Act of 1993 and to force the counties to perform registration list maintenance, along with requesting attorney’s fees. “Defendant has violated (the NVRA) by failing to make a reasonable effort to conduct voter list maintenance programs in elections for federal office and by failing to produce records and data related to those efforts,” both very similar complaints state.
Election officials want to ensure Brookhaven voters know where to cast a ballot during upcoming municipal elections in the hope of reducing confusion at the polls, but those officials have already encountered a few headaches themselves. In a mass mailing of voter registration cards sent during the last week of March, several Brookhaven areas did not receive the cards. These areas included the Deer Run and Moreton Estates neighborhoods, but City Clerk Mike Jinks has asked other residents to inform him if they did not receive a copy of their voter registration card by mail. The voter registration cards indicate the city ward and county district a given voter lives in. Mailing cards to each registered voter in the city is intended to help inform those voters if they have been moved into a new ward due to redistricting.
Mississippi: Hinds County voters to use new optical screening machines this fall | The Clarion-Ledger
Hinds County this fall will use a digital voting system in which residents mark a paper ballot, but officials say that’s not a step backward. The optical scanner machines made by Omaha-based Election Systems and Software, used by the state’s 81 other counties, will replace Hinds County’s decade-old, touch-screen system. County leaders say it will make precinct check-in and voting quicker and more foolproof. But just as importantly, they say, the new process will restore confidence to a Hinds County system plagued in recent years by machine malfunctions and accusations that absentee and affidavit ballots were lost or mishandled. The machines will be delivered by July 1, not quite in time for spring municipal primaries and the June general election, but in time for any special elections in August. Jackson residents, though, will use the system via leased equipment in municipal elections this spring. “This will put you with a state-of-the-art system that exceeds many counties,” Frank Jackson, the county’s consultant for procurement and master agent with Electronic Option Services Inc., said of the $1.2 million system. “Our hope is that this project will be modeled throughout the state.
In the refined air of the United States Supreme Court, the questions posed by justices on Wednesday seemed so big as to be unanswerable: Are parts of the Voting Rights Act an unfair infringement on state sovereignty? How different is the South these days from other regions, and from itself in bloody years past? Here in southwest Mississippi, those questions are as real and solid as the longleaf pines. A run-down brick house on this street was bombed by segregationists in the summer of 1964; a few blocks away is a boarded-up supermarket that was bombed the same summer. Down the road is the town where a Mississippi state representative shot a black voting-rights activist. A black man who was witness to that shooting was killed soon after, and the men sitting in the back of the local drugstore still debate what the witness, whom they knew, was planning to say. The McComb project, as it was called by civil rights workers in 1961, was one of the early battles in a long and bloody war for voting rights in the South, a crucible for future leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee who drilled black residents to pass the constitutional literacy tests and in return for their civic engagement were shot at, jailed and beaten.
Mississippi: Clarksdale Mayor Candidate Found Dead — First Openly Gay Candidate in Mississippi | TPM
A Mississippi mayoral candidate was found dead Wednesday and the case is being investigated as a homicide, authorities said. Coahoma County Coroner Scotty Meredith said the body of 34-year-old Marco McMillian was found on the Mississippi River levee Wednesday at about 10 a.m. The 34-year-old McMillian was running for mayor of Clarksdale, a Blues hub where actor and Mississippi native Morgan Freeman co-owns a music club with Howard Stovall, a Memphis entertainment executive, and Bill Luckett, who also is running for mayor. Meredith said the body was found between Sherard and Rena Lara and was sent to Jackson for an autopsy. He declined to provide further details or speculate on the cause of death. The sheriff’s office said Wednesday in a news release on its Facebook page that a person of interest was in custody, but had not been formally charged.
Mississippi: Senate approves $695K for secretary of state to defend voter ID plan | The Clarion-Ledger
The Mississippi Senate on Tuesday approved $695,000 for the secretary of state to defend a proposed voter identification law, and the budget bill moves on to the House for more work. The secretary of state’s overall $13 million budget for fiscal 2014 was rejected last week, but many senators were out of the chamber at the time. During a second vote Tuesday with better attendance, Senate Bill 2901 passed. Mississippi needs federal approval for any changes to election laws, to ensure that the changes don’t dilute minority voting strength. If the Justice Department rejects the voter ID proposal, as many expect, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann could ask federal judges to approve it.
State senators balked Thursday at giving Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann $395,000 to spend on lawyers from former Gov. Haley Barbour’s law firm to defend Mississippi’s Voter ID law. Republicans were caught off guard when they didn’t have enough members in the Senate chamber to pass the $15.3 million budget that included $395,000 for private lawyers in the 2014 fiscal year that begins July 1. The bill failed on a vote of 23-17. The state Constitution requires a majority of elected members — the Senate has 52, but one seat is vacant — must vote for approval before a measure can pass. Supporters plan to try again next week. Hosemann, a Republican, and state Atty. Gen. Jim Hood, a Democrat, signed a contract with the Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens and Cannada law firm in September that authorizes the outside lawyers to represent the state “on all issues related to pre-clearance of that legislation and any related legislation, rules or regulations and all litigation that may arise or be instituted in connection with pre-clearance.
Mississippi’s top elections official said Tuesday that he has given the federal government proposed rules for how the state intends to carry out a voter identification law that is in limbo. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s submission to the U.S. Justice Department is part of the state’s process of seeking federal approval of the law that would require every voter to show a driver’s license or other photo ID at the polls. The law can’t take effect without clearance from the Justice Department or a federal court. It’s unclear when, or how, the department will respond. Hosemann started seeking approval several months ago.
Mississippi: Hosemann: Study may help win approval for Mississippi voter ID law | The Clarion-Ledger
A study shows more than 98 percent of voters who voted in the November general election have one form of acceptable photo identification that would satisfy the state’s Voter ID law, which is awaiting U.S. Department of Justice approval, says Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. The study of 5,965 voters from all demographic groups showed 98.3 percent of voters interviewed after exiting polls had at least one of the eight forms of photo ID outlined as acceptable under the Voter ID law. Hosemann said today that he hopes the information will help gain Justice Department approval for the state’s voter ID law.