Election-law reform has been a slow process in Mississippi, but with the help of a bi-partisan committee’s report, that could change soon. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann formed a committee of legislators, circuit clerks, election commissioners and other citizens to review the state’s election code. The 2016 Election Law Reform Committee met from June through September 2015 and published a report of their recommendations on Jan. 19. The committee suggests several changes to Mississippi’s election code, including online voter registration, campaign-finance reporting and election official conduct. Hosemann views the changes as “phase two” of election-law reform that he says started with the voter-ID laws that went into effect in 2014. Hosemann told the Stennis Press Forum on Feb. 1 that the committee looked at several other state election laws to help inform their recommendations.
The secretary of state’s office will lobby for the 380-page bill to be passed in the 2016 legislative session. Hosemann said the committee’s report was an indicator of the progress Mississippi has made in election laws. “I think it’s well worth our efforts …,” Hosemann said Monday. “All of these changes are big parts of an interwoven election code that should be passed.”
Hosemann said the entire bill should be passed together because all the changes affect the election system as a whole.
The committee recommends tightening up campaign-finance laws by holding political committees to stricter reporting deadlines. Instead of the 10-day reporting period after spending or receiving more than $200, the proposal says committees must report within 48 hours. Additionally, expenses should be line-itemized. The goal of these changes is transparency, the report says.