Bloated voter rolls present concern in state elections - - Jackson, MS

Bloated voter rolls present concern in state elections

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

As Mississippians voted for their candidates during last years primary and general elections, state observers were taking note of the election process.  

"By and large it's running well but there's still some problem areas," said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

Hosemann released a report outlining what those problem areas are. Many, like campaigning violations and allegations of improper voting assistance, are constant issues, but what's causing major concern is bloated voter rolls.

Sixteen counties have more registered voters on the rolls than the 2010 census figures indicate are eligible to vote. The top five are Humphreys, Issaquena, Walthall, Sharkery and Jeff Davis.

"Bloated voter rolls are kind of the key ingredient here for a lot of other issues. They're where the roots are for us to tear out to make sure that we have a good system," said Hosemann.

Hosemann says that happens when voter rolls aren't purged by election commissioners, which can lead to voting discrepancies in areas like absentee voting.  

"The correlation between absentee ballot issues and bloated voter rolls is very easy to make and here in Mississippi we're seeing that occur," said Hosemann.

It happens far too often says Hosemann. In one case one person signed off as a witness on more than 160 absentee ballots and Hosemann is asking law makers to step in.  

"We've asked the legislature to limit that to ten plus family members and I'm hopeful that the legislature will consider that this year," said Hosemann.

With more than 40,000 absentee ballots last year, Hosemann realizes many people use them as a form of early voting. However, Hosemann says Mississippi isn't quite ready to become an early voting state, at least not until voter rolls are better controlled.

In the meantime Hosemann says he'll be meeting with election commissioners to address the issues.  

"All parts of the system have to work in order to give you the integrity of the vote," said Hosemann..

Hosemann plans to present the report to lawmakers in hopes they'll address election concerns and go ahead and put safe guards in place to prevent major problems from happening in the future.

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