Articles about voting issues in Mississippi.

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.”

Full Article: Mississippi Russian election software.

Mississippi: Vigorous absentee voting can sway Mississippi elections | Jackson Clarion-Ledger

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.

Full Article: Vigorous absentee voting can sway Mississippi elections.

Mississippi: Early voting, online registration die in committee | Jackson Clarion-Ledger

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.”

Full Article: Early voting, online registration die in committee.

Mississippi: City of Meridian wants ES&S to manage their elections | Meridian Star

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.

Full Article: City of Meridian wants to handle elections in-house | Local News | meridianstar.com.

Mississippi: Voter fraud probe traced back to ex-Mississippi welfare head | The Clarion Ledger

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.

Full Article: Voter fraud probe traced back to ex-MS welfare head.

Mississippi: Senate likely to kill early voting, online registration | Hattiesburg American

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.

Full Article: Senate likely to kill early voting, online registration.

Mississippi: Bills would ease early voting and online voter registration | Associated Press

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.

Full Article: Bills would ease early voting and online voter registration | | dailyprogress.com.

Mississippi: ID scanners called into question by voters | WAPT

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.

Full Article: ID scanners called into question by voters.

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.

Full Article: Voting rights activists fret over loss of election observers in Mississippi | The Kansas City Star.

Mississippi: Legislature less inclined to restore felons’ voting rights | Daily Journal

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.

Full Article: Legislature less inclined to restore felons’ voting rights - Daily Journal.

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.

Full Article: Voter ID laws: Why black Democrats' fight for the ballot in Mississippi still matters.

Mississippi: Small number have voting rights restored in Mississippi | Jackson Clarion-Ledger

In Mississippi, a person convicted of selling 1,000 kilos of cocaine keeps the right to vote while a person convicted of grand larceny loses the right to vote for life. Mississippi lists 21 felony crimes that disqualify a person from voting for life: arson; armed robbery; bigamy; bribery; embezzlement; extortion; felony bad check; felony shoplifting; forgery; larceny; murder; obtaining money or goods under false pretense; perjury; rape; receiving stolen property; robbery; theft; timber larceny; unlawful taking of motor vehicle; statutory rape; carjacking; and larceny under lease or rental agreement. In Mississippi, the only way to restore the right to vote after a felony conviction is by the Legislature passing a suffrage bill. However, very few people have their right to vote restored through the legislative process. “It’s not an effective, workable system,” said longtime state Rep. Tommy Reynolds, D-Charleston. “It’s basically a 19th century system for the 21st century.”

Full Article: Small number have voting rights restored in Mississippi.

Mississippi: Hosemann: State voter ID law will survive | Jackson Clarion-Ledger

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says Mississippi’s voter ID law was crafted with input from the U.S. Department of Justice, which was completely different than Texas’ voter ID law that was struck down this week by the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. “We took a completely different tactic than Texas,” Hosemann said Thursday. “We did it right.” He said the voter ID law struck down in Texas had a charge to verify birth certificate and no funds were provided for a public awareness program. Hosemann said Mississippi will provide free rides to and from circuit clerk’s offices for individuals to obtain free voter photo ID cards that can be presented at the time of voting. If individuals need it, circuit clerks can search for a person’s birth certificate at the clerk’s office that can be used to verify that person’s identity so a voter ID card can be issued.

Full Article: Hosemann: State voter ID law will survive.

Mississippi: Analysis: Early voting could make you a liar in Mississippi | Associated Press

Mississippi lawmakers this year rejected a proposal to stop making liars of their fellow citizens, at least when it comes to early voting. Current state law allows any registered voter who is disabled or at least 65 years old to cast an absentee ballot before election day. Anyone else needs an excuse, such as being out of town on election day, to vote early by absentee. A bipartisan study group led by Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann met in 2015 and recommended several election law revisions for legislators to consider this year. The group unanimously backed the concept of allowing voters to cast ballots in circuit clerks’ offices starting 21 days before any election, without having to give a reason. During a news conference at the beginning of the legislative session in January, Hosemann said about 9,000 people cast absentee ballots in Mississippi statewide elections. He said about one-third request mail-in ballots, while two-thirds go to a circuit clerk’s office to vote absentee. Almost half of the people going to clerks’ offices say they’re planning to be out of the county on election day.

Full Article: Analysis: Early voting could make you a liar in Mississippi - HeraldCourier.com: News.

Mississippi: Major updates to election law lost at end of session | WDAM

Many major updates to Mississippi’s election law were lost on the last day of 2016 legislative session when the Mississippi House of Representatives killed House Bill 797. “There’s no reasonable excuse to me,” Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said. “We are disappointed and dismayed in the Mississippi legislature failing to do that. No real excuse for that to me. I’ve asked Governor to put it on his special session when he calls it in June. Bring it back up.” Hattiesburg Rep. Toby Barker said the election code changes were lost because they were in the same bill that would stop lawmakers from spending campaign dollars on personal items. “Out of a 291 page conference report, only 10 of those actually dealt with campaign finance reform, so the rest of it was trying to bring Mississippi up to date with technology, trying to clarify some things to prevent past election mishaps from happening,” Barker said. “So to lose the whole bill at the very end of session was very unfortunate.” Barker worked as a member of Hosemann’s bipartisan election reform committee, which was created in 2014 to help draft the election code changes.

Full Article: Major updates to MS election law lost at end of session - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS.

Mississippi: House turns back limit on taking campaign cash | Associated Press

With longtime members rebelling against changes, the Mississippi House voted down a bill that would have restricted personal use of campaign money. The unrecorded voice vote on House Bill 797 came Tuesday after several House members complained about proposed restrictions, including ending the ability to take money for personal use to repay undocumented campaign expenses. The campaign finance changes had been attached to a broader rewrite of state election law, and could return in modified form in the closing days of the Legislature. The proposal came after The Associated Press and The Clarion-Ledger questioned campaign spending. Some officials took leftover money from accounts when they retired, or spent it on things like cars, clothing and personal travel. Experts say the practice makes campaign contributions perilously close to bribes. Mississippi is one of only five states that still allow elected officials to pocket campaign money for personal use during or after their careers. 

Full Article: Miss. House turns back limit on taking campaign cash - The Dispatch.

Mississippi: House, Senate negotiators reach campaign finance deal | The Clarion-Ledger

Senate and House negotiators, minutes before a Monday night deadline, reached agreement on campaign finance reform, including restrictions on personal use of campaign money. A strict ban on personal spending the Senate had passed was slightly relaxed in the compromise version, lawmakers said, and the reforms wouldn’t kick in until Jan. 1. The measure will go before the full House and Senate as early as Tuesday. “We all wanted to do the right thing,” said Senate Election Chairwoman Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven. “But we didn’t want to penalize colleagues who have been operating under different rules for 20 years or more.” Experts and politicians have called Mississippi’s campaign finance setup “a recipe for ethical disaster” and “legalized bribery.”

Full Article: House, Senate negotiators reach campaign finance deal.

Mississippi: Senate takes step toward campaign finance reform | Clarion-Ledger

The Senate unanimously passed a bill Wednesday that would require Mississippi politicians to itemize campaign spending done with a credit card instead of just listing a lump-sum payment to the card company as many have been doing for years on their public reports. But the chances of further campaign-finance reform appear slim for this legislative session. A continuing Clarion-Ledger special report, “Public Office/Private Gain,” has shown Mississippi politicians spend campaign money on clothes, groceries, trips out of state, cars, apartments, home improvements, payments to their own companies and to themselves and many other personal expenses prohibited in other states and in federal campaigns. For many, campaign accounts appear to have become a second income, funded by lobbyists and special interests doing business with the state.

Full Article: Miss. Senate takes step toward campaign finance reform.

Mississippi: House would allow online voter registration, early voting | Associated Press

Mississippi voters could register online and vote in person ahead of elections under a bill moving forward in the Legislature. House members voted Thursday to pass three bills that would rewrite Mississippi’s election laws, a proposal pushed by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. The package moves to the Senate for more work. Similar Senate legislation died when the body didn’t take it up Thursday before a deadline for action.

Full Article: House would allow online voter registration, early voting - Washington Times.

Mississippi: Top election officials place blame for ballot change costs | WLOX

The Secretary of State’s Office said it will cost Mississippi hundreds of thousands of dollars to add a name to the Democratic Presidential Primary ballot. On Feb. 25, 2016, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered the Secretary of State’s Office to add Willie Wilson to the ballot. While Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s office appealed the decision, citing already printed absentee ballots, the Supreme Court issued a revised decision placing Wilson on all other ballots for the March 8 primary. The Secretary of State’s Office estimates the change will cost Mississippians hundreds of thousands of dollars. Additionally, it says the state’s Democratic Party is to blame.

Full Article: Top election officials place blame for ballot change costs - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS.