A federal judge ruled Wednesday that one of Mississippi’s 52 state Senate districts violates the Voting Rights Act because it does not give African-American voters an “equal opportunity” to elect a candidate of their choice. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves ruled in a lawsuit that challenges the composition of Senate District 22. The district stretches through parts of six counties in the Delta down into the Jackson suburbs of Madison County. It has a 51 percent black voting-age population and a white senator, Republican Buck Clarke of Hollandale.Full Article: US judge orders remap of a Mississippi state Senate district | Myrtle Beach Sun News.
Articles about voting issues in Mississippi.
A federal judge heard arguments Wednesday about whether African-American voters in part of Mississippi have a chance to elect a candidate of their choice in a state Senate district with a slim black majority. Three black plaintiffs sued the state in July, asking U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves to order that Senate District 22 be redrawn to increase its black majority. One of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, Rob McDuff, said the district has a history of racially polarized voting that creates hurdles for any black candidate to win in the district. “They are always losing, no matter how good the quality of the candidate,” McDuff said Wednesday. Mike Wallace is an attorney representing Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who are two of the three state election commissioners named as defendants. Wallace said that although Mississippi had barriers in the past to black voter registration and participation, plaintiffs failed to show that African-Americans face hurdles now in District 22. “There isn’t anything impeding them from exercising the right to vote,” Wallace said.Full Article: US judge hears arguments in Mississippi redistricting case | Idaho Statesman.
It’s deadline day at the state capitol – and there’s a last-minute push to restore voting rights for felons here in Mississippi. … This latest effort centers around Mississippi ‘s constitutional lifetime voting ban if someone is convicted of a felony. Mississippi is one of only 3 states with a lifetime ban— crimes that can get you disenfranchised range from larceny to murder. One Mississippian who was convicted of a felony as a juvenile is a part of a lawsuit going after the state for this law. He says he deserves to be able to vote because he did his time, then stayed away from trouble and now he is trying to set an example for his young children.Full Article: Voting rights for felons considered at legislature.
A proposal would set a shorter deadline for Mississippi voters to show photo identification if they forget it on Election Day. Since 2014, the state has required people to show government-issued identification, such as a driver’s license, before voting. Anyone who forgets an ID may cast an affidavit ballot at the precinct but must go to a courthouse within five days to show the identification. If they don’t show up, their ballot is rejected. Senate Bill 2242 would shorten the five days to three days.Full Article: Proposal would make Mississippi voter ID law stricter | Myrtle Beach Sun News.
Mississippi: Civil rights lawsuit claims Mississippi made it nearly impossible to vote by absentee ballot | Salon
A civil rights group is suing top officials in Mississippi for giving voters very little time to cast absentee ballots in Tuesday’s special runoff Senate election, making it nearly impossible for some votes to be counted. Democrat Mike Espy faces appointed Republican incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith Tuesday after neither received a majority of the vote in the November 6 election. According to a federal lawsuit filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, election officials did not send absentee ballots for the run-off until Nov. 17. Many out-of-state voters did not receive the ballots until Thanksgiving time. Under state law, absentee ballots must have been submitted by Monday, Nov. 26 at 5 p.m. Absentee ballots in the state must also be notarized, which means many voters had just one business day to get the ballot stamped and delivered to their county elections office, Mississippi Today reported. “Mississippi’s absentee ballot procedures stand out as some of the most burdensome in this country,” the lawsuit says, accusing the state of violating the Constitution.Full Article: Civil rights lawsuit claims Mississippi made it nearly impossible to vote by absentee ballot | Salon.com.
Mississippi: Civil rights group sues State over ‘burdensome’ absentee voting rules | Mississippi Today
A national civil rights group has filed a lawsuit against state officials over Mississippi’s absentee voting procedures, which “threaten to disenfranchise honest, eligible voters,” the suit alleges. The suit, filed last week by the Washington, D.C.-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in the state’s Southern District, seeks emergency relief on behalf of three Mississippi residents who will be away from home during Tuesday’s runoff election and intend to vote absentee instead. None of the three had received their requested ballots as of Nov. 20, stated the suit, which was also filed on behalf of the NAACP’s Mississippi chapter. But according to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, computer records show that county officials downloaded ballots for two of the plaintiffs, William Sewell and Julianne Huber, on Nov. 17, the first day that those ballots could have been mailed out, the Associated Press reported.Full Article: Civil rights group sues Mississippi over 'burdensome' absentee voting rules | Mississippi Today.
A special election for the Senate in Mississippi has become a test of racial and partisan politics in the Deep South, as a Republican woman, Cindy Hyde-Smith, and an African-American Democrat, Mike Espy, compete for the last Senate seat still up for grabs in the 2018 midterm campaign. Ms. Hyde-Smith, who was appointed to a seat in the Senate earlier this year, seemed until recently to be on a glide path toward winning the election in her own right. Mr. Espy, a former cabinet secretary under President Bill Clinton, was running a strong underdog campaign but appeared highly unlikely to overcome Mississippi’s strongly conservative inclination. Yet the trajectory of the election was thrown into doubt last week when a video was circulated showing Ms. Hyde-Smith, 59, praising a supporter by telling him that if he invited her “to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”Full Article: In Mississippi, Issues of Race Complicate a Senate Election - The New York Times.
Absentee voting is a difficult process in Mississippi and will be more difficult for the upcoming runoff elections with three state holidays between now and Nov. 27, state Sen. David Blount said Friday. “There is a very tight window to vote absentee,” said Blount, who spoke about the issue from the Hinds County Courthouse with Circuit Clerk Zack Wallace. Blount said state offices will be closed Monday for Veterans Day and Nov. 22 for Thanksgiving. Most will also be closed Nov. 23. “We believe the more people who vote the better the government will be,” Blount said. “We encourage everyone to go vote in these important runoff elections.” The absentee voting process can’t begin for the runoffs until results from the Nov. 6 general election are certified. The deadline to certify results is Nov. 16.Full Article: State holidays could complicate absentee voting in Mississippi.
Mississippi: Not all ex-felons are barred from voting in Mississippi, but no one is telling them that | Mississippi Today
Jed Blackerby always understood, following his 2003 felony conviction, he had lost his right to vote. Mississippi’s constitution permanently strips the voting rights from people convicted of a number of specific felonies — 22 in total, according to the attorney general’s office. But Blackerby’s crime of aggravated assault does not appear on that list. “No one gave any guidance,” Blackerby said after learning he may still have his voting rights. “A long time ago when convicted felons, point blank, were not allowed to vote, (government officials) never made it public until afterwards that (people with) certain types of convictions were allowed to vote. It had never been publicized.” Blackerby has never visited the polls on Election Day, even though he considers himself engaged in politics and he has strong opinions about the country’s direction.Full Article: Not all ex-felons are barred from voting in Mississippi, but no one is telling them that | Mississippi Today.
How safe is the ballot you will be casting during the November 6 election? Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann maintains that your ballot will be safe from hackers, but he reveals that there are thousands of attempts each month to try to penetrate the Statewide Election Management System. In the past few weeks, the agency that oversees elections reports that hackers have attempted to get into the systems of circuit clerks and election commissioners. “They are sending out emails to my circuit clerks and my election commissioners telling them to open this invoice from a former employee who’s no longer employed here,” said Hosemann. “So I will tell you that’s the level of attempts we have going on.”
Mississippi: A New Class of Voting Rights Activists Picks Up the Mantle in Mississippi | The New York Times
The first time Howard Kirschenbaum registered voters in Mississippi was during the summer of 1964, when he was arrested and thrown in jail. The second time was on Tuesday, after returning to the Southern state more than a half-century later to support a new generation of voting rights activists. In the quiet of a rainy morning, Mr. Kirschenbaum helped to register students on the campus of the University of Mississippi, and before long, he was in tears. Memories of Freedom Summer 1964, the historic campaign to register African-American voters in Mississippi, came rushing back. “In that moment, there must have been five or six students, all waiting patiently to fill out the registration form,” said Mr. Kirschenbaum, 73, recalling the summer he spent in Moss Point, Miss., 54 years ago. “I am witnessing this moment. They want to vote. They are able to vote. The connection between then and now was so palpable. This is what we worked for all those years ago.”Full Article: A New Class of Voting Rights Activists Picks Up the Mantle in Mississippi - The New York Times.
Mississippi is updating a voter registration deadline to meet a requirement of a 1993 federal law, giving people a bit more time to register so they can vote in runoff elections for federal offices. The state has required people to be registered at least 30 days before the first round of voting in an election. Runoffs happen three weeks later. The Mississippi NAACP, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Mississippi Center for Justice sent a letter to the state’s top election official in June. It said that under the National Voter Registration Act, people should be able to vote in runoffs if they’re registered at least 30 days before the runoff, not 30 days before the initial election.Full Article: Mississippi Updating Voter Registration Deadline for Runoffs | Mississippi News | US News.
A state Senate district in Mississippi dilutes black voting power and should be redrawn, three African-American plaintiffs say in a federal lawsuit filed Monday. The suit asks a judge to order legislators to reconfigure the district before the 2019 state elections. District 22 has a 51 percent black voting-age population, and the suit says it lacks “real electoral opportunity” for African-Americans. “The lack of opportunity is the result of white bloc voting and lower African-American turnout that are vestiges of the historical discrimination and extreme socio-economic disparities that have been inflicted upon African-Americans over a long period of time,” the lawsuit says.Full Article: Lawsuit: Mississippi legislative district dilutes black vote - Fairfield Citizen.
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.Full Article: Mississippi slated to receive some election security money.
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.”Full Article: Bennie Thompson and Delbert Hosemann spar on status of grant paperwork to U.S. EAC | Mississippi Politics and News - Y'all Politics.
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.Full Article: Mississippi Ex-Felons Oppose Merger of 2 Voting Rights Cases | Mississippi News | US News.
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.Full Article: 180,000 Mississippians no longer have right to vote: senator.
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.Full Article: Lawmaker hopes to increase low voter turnout - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS.
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.”Full Article: Fighting for the Right to Vote | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS.
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.”Full Article: Lawsuit Seeks to End Mississippi's Lifetime Felon Voting Ban - The New York Times.