Mississippi can expect to receive nearly $4.5 million from the federal government in the next few months to improve election security, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office said Tuesday. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann applied for a grant from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which has about $90 million available to divide among states for election security measures. Spokeswoman Leah Rupp Smith said Tuesday that Mississippi should receive its money before the general election this November.
Articles about voting issues in Mississippi.
Mississippi: Bennie Thompson and Delbert Hosemann spar on status of grant paperwork to U.S. EAC | Y’all Politics
On Monday, Congressman Bennie Thompson sent a letter to Mississippi’s Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann asking him to submit paperwork on behalf of the state so that grant funding from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission would be eligible to the state. … “Russian interference in the 2016 election was a watershed moment for our democracy,” Thompson wrote in the letter. “Russia’s efforts have affected public confidence in elections and its efforts have shown no signs of cooling. Mississippi currently uses a combination of paper ballots and direct recording electronic voting machines (DREs) without a voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT).” … Just yesterday the Chairman for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Thomas Hicks, sent a letter to the editor of POLITICO in response to a letter published on May 17, “So far, few states have sought federal money to secure elections.”
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.
Mississippi: Lawsuit: Mississippi Constitution still disenfranchising thousands | Jackson Clarion Ledger
Mississippi’s Constitution, born in 1890 from the cauldron of white supremacy, continues to bar thousands of Mississippians from voting, a lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges. “The scheme, created in the wake of Reconstruction, was harsh, punitive and unforgiving,” the lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center alleges. “Born out of racial animus and still disproportionately impacting black Mississippians, the scheme impermissibly denies the right to vote to tens of thousands of citizens across the state.” Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, put the number of disenfranchised Mississippians at more than 180,000 — 8 percent of the adult population. Gov. Phil Bryant opposes any change to the law.
Hinds County voters returned to the polls Tuesday in the special election runoff for county attorney, but election officials reported extremely low turnout, which isn’t uncommon for runoffs. One lawmaker hopes bills he is introducing will increase the numbers casting their ballots. Throughout much of the day, Tuesday poll workers sat waiting for voters. At Precinct 14, Fondren Presbyterian Church, only eight people had voted by 11:30 in the special runoff is for county attorney. According to Hinds County election officials, just 6.8% of registered voters cast their ballot in the November 7 election. There are more than 150,800 registered voters in the county.
Roy Harness is a U.S. Army and a National Guard veteran, a recovered drug addict and a Jackson State University student studying for his master’s degree in social work. He has lived through the stress of military life, the depressing depths of addiction, which led to years of homelessness and helplessness—and ultimately a stint in prison for forging a check. “I owed the drug dealer a lot of money. That’s what caused me to write the check,” Harness told the Jackson Free Press. The McComb native says he started using drugs to numb his fear during his military service as well as deal with the pain of his service-related injuries. He went to prison for the forgery in 1986. Harness knew before he was released in 1988 that he had lost his right to vote—he remembers talking about it while he was in prison. “You hear about all this in jail,” he said. “… When I was up in jail, they were letting people out who were able to go vote.”
Mississippi’s constitution bars its citizens from voting ever again after being convicted of certain felonies. Now a legal group wants the federal courts to remove what it calls an illegal vestige of white supremacy by striking down most of these restrictions. Attorney Rob McDuff, who filed suit Thursday in Jackson, estimates that more than 50,000 Mississippians have been disqualified from voting since 1994 due to these convictions. About 60 percent are African-American, in a state whose population is 37 percent black. The suit describes the disenfranchising crimes as “an integral part of the overall effort to prevent African-Americans in Mississippi from voting. Once you’ve paid your debt to society, I believe you should be allowed to participate again,” said plaintiff Kamal Karriem, a 58-year-old former Columbus city councilman who pleaded guilty to embezzlement in 2005 after being charged with stealing a city cellphone. “I don’t think it should be held against you for the rest of your life.”
Mississippi: State has halted use of Russian software in election systems, Hosemann says | Jackson Clarion- Ledger
U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson on Friday urged Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann to remove any Kaspersky Lab software from Mississippi’s elections systems over fears of Russian hacking. But Hosemann said he made that call about a month ago, after he first heard concerns over the company’s possible ties to the Russian government. He said the Kaspersky antivirus software, sold throughout the U.S., was being used in three Mississippi counties, Adams, Franklin and Wilkinson. One has already switched to another brand and two others are in the process, Hosemann said. “On Aug. 18, we notified all our circuit clerks of potential vulnerabilities of Kaspersky software and at that time determined three of them were using it,” Hosemann said. “All have responded. One I know has already changed and two are in the process.”
Sara Deloach. Patricia Brooks. Judy Lewis. Candidates in Columbus and Lowndes County the past 40-plus years likely know at least one, if not all, of these women and might have used their services. The three, and others, have built a loyal among elderly and residents with disabilities for whom they provide witness signatures on absentee ballots — election after election. State law allows voters who are 65 and older, or will otherwise be unavailable to vote on election day, to cast absentees through the mail or in person at a city registrar’s office for municipal elections or circuit clerk’s office for all others. Most absentees must be signed and witnessed by a notary public or court clerk. But in cases where voters are illiterate or temporarily or permanently disabled, anyone at least 18 years old can provide a witness signature on their mail-in absentee ballots.
House bills to allow early voting and online voter registration died without a vote in a Senate committee on Tuesday, frustrating House Elections Chairman Bill Denny. “They didn’t even take them up in committee,” said Denny, R-Jackson, who also authored both bills. “The Senate Elections chairwoman had said they were DOA. To me that’s almost insulting, to have our committee in the House pass these out two years in a row, then have them pass the full House with no more than two to four dissenting votes, and then the Senate committee not even discuss them, to announce that they are DOA before they even get them.”