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Category: Mississippi (page 1 of 2)

Mississippi: Masks, Mandates, and Mail-In Voting

By Catrina Curtis

Mississippi finds itself in an odd position going into this important Election Day amidst the COVID-19 pandemic: it is the only state to have allowed its statewide mask mandate to expire and the only state that is not offering early or mail-in voting for all of its citizens. 

The Magnolia State is one of only five states that will not offer no-excuse absentee voting for this November’s election, even as the vast majority of states have expanded their mail-in voting options due to health and safety concerns. However, among the five states not offering no-excuse absentee voting, Mississippi is the only state also not offering early voting. Although the Mississippi Legislature passed an amendment this summer to allow for those quarantining due to COVID-19 or those caring for someone with COVID-19 to vote by mail, the Mississippi Supreme Court recently held that the amendment does not also allow for those with pre-existing conditions at a greater risk of COVID-19 to vote absentee, striking down a lower interpretation of the amendment that was appealed by the Secretary of State. 

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No No-Excuse Absentee Voting in the Magnolia State

By Catrina Curtis

While the entire country will vote in an important presidential election in November, Mississippians will also vote on significant state ballot measures, such as legalizing medical marijuana, approving a newly designed state flag, and repealing a Jim Crow-era election law. However, because Mississippi has not fully relaxed its mail-in voting requirements, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is fear that not enough has been done to protect Mississippians’ ability to vote in such a crucial election. 

One driving force behind the fear of strict absentee voting in Mississippi is the state’s large black population. Mississippi has the highest black population in the country, at 37.8%, and COVID-19 disproportionately affects minorities. Some believe the state is particularly failing to protect both its minorities’ health and voice in this year’s critical election. Late this summer, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law along with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, along with the Mississippi Center for Justice, filed separate lawsuits on behalf of Mississippi plaintiffs. Both suits, one at the state level and one at the federal level, allege that the state is failing to adequately protect Mississippians’ constitutional right to vote during the current pandemic. 

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Historic Change Again On the Horizon in Mississippi

By Tamikia Carr Vasquez

Mississippi, historically a hotbed of racial hostility between whites and blacks, is once again on the cusp of change. In June, the Mississippi legislature voted to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state’s flag. In November, voters will have the opportunity to vote on removing the “Mississippi Plan” from the state constitution. This 1890 Jim Crow era provision states that to win certain statewide offices, a candidate must win the majority of the popular vote and win a majority of Mississippi’s 122 House districts. The Mississippi Center for Justice is on the forefront of leading the effort to abolish this procedure. In 2019, the Center  worked on a federal lawsuit against the state. I recently spoke with Vangela M. Wade, President and CEO of the Center, about the background of the current  electoral process, the prospects of the success of the referendum, and other election law issues facing Mississippi. This is part 1 of a two-part interview.

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Voter Registration Series, Article 1: Mississippi

By: Caiti Anderson

The ability to vote is a powerful tool to ensure one’s voice is heard among the clamor of democracy.  However, this right has remained elusive to many throughout American history.  The long, hard slog to create a “more perfect union” comprises the battle for inclusivity in the American political process.  Over the next few weeks, this series will study the history of voter registration through the comparative analysis of the history of voter registration in different states and the growing movement towards automatic voter registration.  Today’s article will examine Mississippi and the ongoing journey towards fair voter registration laws in that state.

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The Primary Problem

By Staff Writer:

As the turmoil over the election season comes to a close, the battle between Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel seems to have finally been put to rest. The Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in late October that McDaniel had missed the twenty day deadline to challenge the results of the primary runoff. However, as some conservative supporters were quick to point out, the Court never reached the merits of the case. McDaniel’s claims were dismissed based on court precedent, not black letter law, regarding timely filing. This lead some online news sources to question whether the law was properly applied or whether McDaniel might challenge Cochran’s seating in the Senate. However, despite the McDaniel campaign’s continued assertion that true justice has been denied, it appears that Thad Cochran will serve a seventh term as a U.S. Senator for Mississippi.    Continue reading

Mississippi’s Newfound Frustration With Open Primaries

By Staff Writer:

Mississippi garnered unexpected national attention this summer as its system of open primary voting became a contributor to the wider debate of how best to fairly and legitimately select candidates and representatives. If you haven’t been paying attention, Mississippi’s long running Republican Senator, Thad Cochran, came very close to losing his seat to Tea Party Conservative Chris McDaniel in a rather ugly, tight primary race. In an effort to overcome his challenger in a runoff election, Cochran strategically capitalized on Mississippi’s use of open primary voting by asking traditionally Democratic voters to support him in the primary runoff against his far more conservative opponent. In a state where Democrats’ primary voters turned out in less than half the number of participants as the Republican primary, Cochran’s gambit to garner those as-yet uncast primary votes could be considered borderline tactical genius. McDaniel and his supporters are pretty sure, however, that it should be considered less than legal. Continue reading

Link: Professor Rebecca Green on Mississippi

Rebecca Green, co-director of William & Mary’s Election Law Program, has written an insightful article on the upshots for election transparency seen in ongoing Mississippi election campaigns. The post is shared on Professor Rick Hassen’s excellent Election Law Blog.

Permalink: http://electls.blogs.wm.edu/2014/07/06/070614/

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Mr. Colbert: or, How states might learn to love campaign finance reform

Its opponents deride its existence as a farce upon campaign finance law.  Its supporters suggest that it is the only way to set the system straight.  News of it has reached the public’s consciousness, rarified air for anything in the field of campaign finance. And we’re not even talking about Citizens United.

The Federal Election Commission’s recent decision permitting comedian Stephen Colbert to form his own Super PAC has successfully turned the media’s (and to a certain extent, the public’s) attention to the post-Citizens United world of political donations. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

A 1996 Federal Appeals Court decision is forcing DC TV stations to air “anti-abortion porn.” Missy Smith is a candidate for the DC congressional seat, though many people claim that she is simply an “anti-abortion extremist, who has found a cheap way to get some truly disgusting images onto daytime and primetime TV.” The 1996 federal appeals court decision prevents any censorship of election ads. Prior to this case, FCC Chairman Mark Fowler advised that “The no censorship prohibition in Section 315 was intended to override the statutory prohibition against the broadcast of obscene or indecent materials that is etched in Section 1464 of the Criminal Code” (cited in Gillett Communications v. Becker, 1992). Since the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down the FCC’s “decency” regulations, freeing the airwaves for uncensored material, so it’s unlikely that Becker will be overturned soon. In the meantime, the video has been removed from YouTube because it violates its policy on “shocking and disgusting content.”

The National Organization of Marriage (NOM), a group opposing gay marriage, is trying to fund an ad in support of Carl Paladino in NY while skirting the election law requiring them to reveal their donors.  Accordingly, they have asked a federal judge to declare NY Election Law §14-100.1 unconstitutional, alleging that it chills their freedom of speech.  NOM would fall under the reporting requirement because they have the goal of “seeing the success of defeat of…political principle[s].” Continue reading

Weekly Wrap-Up

Virginia governor Robert McDonnell is outpacing his Democratic predecessors in restoring voting rights to felons. McDonnell, known as a law-and-order attorney general, has approved 780 of 889 applications — approximately 88 percent of applications — since taking office in January. His predecessors, Democrats Timothy Kaine and Mark Warner, restored the rights of 4,402 and 3,486 felons, respectively. McDonnell revamped the process for restoring voting rights to felons, reducing the wait time for nonviolent felons to two years, allowing applicants to submit documents online, and self-imposing a deadline of 60 days after the application is complete to make a decision. Even as this process continues, however, 300,000 people in Virginia remain disenfranchised.

Rahm Emanuel may be out of a job. The same day that the White House announced he was leaving his post as Chief of Staff to run for mayor of Chicago, attorney Burt Odelson pointed out a 1871 law requiring candidates to live in their jurisdiction for the year before the election. Since Emanuel leased out his house in Chicago while he was working in DC, this may block him from running for Mayor.
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