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.
Articles about voting issues in Mississippi.
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.”
City of Meridian officials are considering managing the upcoming municipal elections in-house, rather than using the services of the Lauderdale County Election Commission. At Tuesday’s city council meeting, the city plans to ask the council to allow Election Systems & Software (ESS), to manage the May 2 municipal elections as a means of saving taxpayer money. The Lauderdale County Election Commission oversaw previous municipal elections. “ESS, our finance department and five election commissioners have been trying to oversee elections,” Meridian Mayor Percy Bland said. ” As an administration, we feel ESS, our finance department and five election commissioners will do a good job. We just handled the Food and Beverage Tax special election (in August). Going forward, we believe that ESS and our finance department team can oversee the municipal election compared to the prices that we paid in the past (to the county). We are doing it as a cost-saving measure.” The city will pay ESS $50,927 to oversee the municipal election. For the 2013 municipal election, the city paid the Lauderdale County Election Commission $24,414, which did not include rental fees for county voting machines.
The former Mississippi official whose tweet may have inspired President Trump to order a “major investigation” into voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election says he has been receiving death threats. “There are people who want to kill me,” ex-welfare head Gregg Phillips told The Clarion-Ledger. “It’s insane.” PolitiFact and others have traced the original claim regarding fraud on Election Day to Phillips, who in the past has been accused of profiting from connections he made while serving in government — something he has denied. After Trump’s victory, Phillips tweeted out, “We have verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens. We are joining @truethevote to initiate legal action.” Then he tweeted: “Completed analysis of database of 180 million voter registrations. Number of non-citizen votes exceeds 3 million. Consulting legal team.” InfoWars published a story with the headline, “Report: Three Million Votes in Presidential Election Cast by Illegal Aliens. Trump may have won popular vote.” The Drudge Report picked up the story, too.
The Senate Elections Committee passed its own version of campaign finance reform on Wednesday and an ‘omnibus’ bill to clean up and tweak Mississippi election code. Senate Elections Chairwoman Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven, said her committee would be open to a House-passed campaign finance bill, but indicated House proposals to allow early voting and online voter registration would be DOA if passed on from the House to the Senate. “There are just too many concerns about online hacking — even allegations from this last election — to look at (online registration) this year,” Doty said of a measure House Elections approved to allow first-time voters to register online. Last year, the Legislature approved people changing their registration online after they move, but the Senate stripped out first-time registration online.
Proposals to expand access to early voting and to create online registration for first-time voters are advancing at the Mississippi Capitol. So is a plan that could eventually simplify the process of restoring voting rights for people who served time for nonviolent felonies. All three bills passed the House Elections Committee on Monday and move to the full House for more debate. House Bill 228 would allow no-excuses in-person early voting, starting 14 days before an election. Current law only lets people vote early if they will be out of town Election Day.
For the first time ever, Mississippi voters had to show an ID to vote in the presidential election. Hinds County leaders used ID scanners to speed up long lines at the polls. “We have scanners that will scan the driver’s licenses and automatically pull out the voter’s name so they don’t have to manually go in and look for it,” election commissioner Connie Cochran said. But the ID scanners are only as good as the poll workers using them. Scanner problems might have cost a Jackson woman her vote because poll workers told her that her granddaughter had already voted using the woman’s name. “She had her ID and everything, but when the machine pulled it up, it pulled up my name (and) she didn’t know,” said the woman, who asked that her name not be used.
Mississippi: Voting rights activists fret over loss of election observers in Mississippi | The Kansas City Star
November’s presidential election is the first in more than 50 years in which the federal government won’t send a full complement of specially trained observers to monitor elections in states, like Mississippi, with long records of discriminatory voting practices. After the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder weakened a core provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the U.S. Department of Justice can deploy special election observers from the Office of Personnel Management only where authorized by a court order. Because of that requirement, the department will deploy a smaller number of its own staff attorneys and other personnel to monitor elections next month in roughly half the states. Unlike the special observers, the department staffers won’t have the authority to view activity inside polling places and locations where votes are tallied unless they get approval from local officials. That potential loss of access to real-time voting operations is causing concern among civil- and voting-rights activists about the integrity of Mississippi’s vote process.
Mississippi has an estimated 182,814 convicted felons ineligible to vote, according to a 2012 study by the Sentencing Project, a national nonprofit organization that works on criminal justice issues. Only Florida with 1.54 million felons or 10.42 percent of its voter-age population ineligible to vote had a higher percentage than Mississippi where 8.27 percent of the adult population was ineligible to vote, according to the study. While the Sentencing Project study might be a bit dated, more than likely the statistics have not changed much in Mississippi. Since 2012, which encompasses the time the current leadership has controlled the House and Senate, eight felons have had their voting rights restored by the Mississippi Legislature.
Mississippi: Voter ID laws: Why black Democrats’ fight for the ballot in Mississippi still matters | The Conversation
This fall, we are faced with the question of who will become president. And equally important – who can vote? Over the past decade, Republican lawmakers in more than 20 states have enacted laws making it harder to vote. In the most extreme cases, they require citizens to present government-issued ID to cast their ballots. Recently, these laws have been successfully challenged in the courts. This summer, federal courts overturned voting laws in North Carolina and North Dakota. In North Carolina, the court ruled against a state law requiring voters to present government-issued ID. The law also restricted, among other things, early voting and had a disproportionate effect on African-American voters. A federal judge ruled that the North Dakota voter ID law had a harmful impact on the ability of Native Americans to cast their vote. Looming over the controversy about voter ID laws is the history of voter suppression and the movement to open the ballot box to African-Americans. As a scholar in African-American history, I believe that today’s debate can be understood only by considering struggles of African-Americans for the vote in the past and in particular by looking at the story of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.