Thursday, May 16, 2024

OPINION COLUMN: Preserving the Integrity of Mississippi Elections

Since sounding the alarm in March on the Biden Administration’s efforts (Executive Order 14019) to turn federal agencies into get-out-the-vote arms to bolster voter registration and participation via unlawful means, many other conservative leaders around the country have joined our fight to push back against federal overreach in elections.

Just this week, citing my letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability penned their own letter to the Office of Management and Budget expressing concerns about EO 14019. The Committee’s letter notes the “lack of constitutional and statutory authority for federal agencies to engage in any activity outside the agency’s authorized mission” and the “lack of transparency from federal agencies and the White House regarding the implementation of this executive order.” Further, the Committee has requested documentation and communications regarding the creation and implementation of the order.

As we see the increased call for transparency and accountability from the Biden Administration’s attempts to infiltrate state-run elections, I think it is important to provide Mississippians with the same clarity about what we are doing in Mississippi to preserve the integrity of our elections.

While the Biden Administration is working to overstep and inflate voter rolls, our office has taken numerous steps to push our election commissioners to clean and better maintain Mississippi’s voter rolls. Though many counties do a great job, we wanted to empower Mississippians to hold their local election officials accountable in counties where improvements are needed.

Since January 2021, we have published active voter counts on our website for all 82 counties. This information allows Mississippi voters to track the progress of the voter roll maintenance conducted by those who run our elections-- circuit clerks and election commissioners. While these officials are required to meet a minimum of four times per year to conduct voter roll maintenance, we have trained and encouraged them to meet more frequently. Through their work, we have seen a solid decrease in bloated voter rolls.

At the state level, we have increased the number of tools election commissioners and circuit clerks have to better maintain voter rolls. Through Memorandums of Understanding with neighboring states and collaboration with the Department of Public Safety, we are working to address those moving across state lines by comparing voter rolls with other states and receiving information anytime a voter surrenders his/her driver’s license to another state.

In partnership with the state legislature, we have codified voter roll maintenance practices to ensure inactive voters not voting in two consecutive federal general elections are purged from the voter roll, and any persons who do not cast a ballot from 2024 to 2028 will be moved to inactive status. We are continuously thinking through and working on ways to help encourage, support, and hold accountable our local election officials.

Cleaning Mississippi’s voter rolls is just one of the active measures we have taken to ensure honest and fair elections. It does not convey the steps taken to ensure only U.S. citizens are voting in our elections, preventing private money from funding election administration, increasing the Election Support Fund disbursement to counties from 50% to 100%, requiring every county to use machines with voter-verifiable paper ballots and no wireless communication, codifying penalties for fraudulently requesting absentee ballots and ballot harvesting, and implementing post-election audits.

As you can see, at the Secretary of State’s Office, we don’t just talk about restoring confidence to Mississippi voters, we are actively doing it. Should you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to my office. Additionally, I encourage you to contact your federal delegation and encourage them to join us in pushing back against the Biden Administration’s efforts to undermine Mississippi’s elections.

MW Signature
Secretary of State
State of Mississippi