Amid the turmoil over the Republican U.S. Senate primary, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has a 51-member panel considering election reforms to present to lawmakers next year. Early voting, online registration, closed or open primaries – Hosemann said implementing voter ID and “having some bright lights thrown on our election process” from the Senate race makes reform likely. If the panel deadlocks on major issues, such as overhauling Mississippi’s hybrid open/closed – no one’s really sure — primary system, Hosemann said he expects the panel and legislators to at least “nibble around the edges” and make some changes. The panel is a bipartisan group of community, business and academic leaders, most with no direct political party ties or titles, Hosemann said. Its chairman, attorney and businessman James Overstreet Jr., told panelists at their first meeting Wednesday, “I’m a political novice – my experience has been limited to voting and giving a few dollars to candidates.” The panel’s first meeting Wednesday focused on primary elections.
… Mississippi’s primary system is hard to categorize, SOS attorney John Fitch told panelists, and could be called “open, semi-closed … or facially closed.”
Mississippi voters do not register by party. There is a state law that says people should not vote in a party’s primary unless they intend to later support its candidate, but a federal court ruled “there is no practical way to enforce (the law).”
Even a law that the state attorney general has said prevents someone from voting in one party’s primary, then crossing over to another’s runoff, is murky officials said.
Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Shedler spoke to the panel, and promoted his state’s primary system, which is basically an open “top-two” free-for-all. All candidates are placed on the same ballot regardless of party, with the top two vote getters in a race moving on to a general election, or the top winning outright if they receive more than 50 percent.
Full Article: Panel ponders Mississippi elections overhaul.