Some former convicts who want to regain voting rights in Mississippi say their lawsuit should stand on its own and not be merged with a similar case. Two federal lawsuits are challenging Mississippi’s system for restoring suffrage to people convicted of certain felonies. One was filed in September by the Mississippi Center for Justice and other attorneys, representing some former convicts. The other was filed in March by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other attorneys, with a different set of plaintiffs who had lost voting rights because of felony convictions. The state’s top elections official, Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, filed papers April 5 requesting consolidation of the two cases, which he said are similar. They are assigned to different judges.
Plaintiffs in the second case said in papers filed Thursday that the lawsuits should remain separate because they make different arguments about how Mississippi violates people’s federal constitutional rights.
The Mississippi Constitution strips voting rights from people convicted of 10 felonies, including murder, forgery and bigamy. The attorney general later expanded that list to 22, adding crimes that included including timber larceny and carjacking.