Voters wishing to cast ballots in runoff elections are being given more time to register to vote in those elections, pursuant to a petition by a civil rights group.
As a result, the state has agreed to adjust a voter registration deadline to meet a requirement of a 1993 federal law which would enable them to cast a ballot in a runoff election if they register 30 days prior to the runoff.
In the past, Mississippi has mandated that voters be registered at least 30 days before the first round of voting in an election. By tradition and law, runoffs are slated three weeks later.
The Mississippi NAACP, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Mississippi Center for Justice argued that under the National Voter Registration Act, people should be able to vote in runoffs if they’re registered at least 30 days before the runoff, not 30 days before the initial election.
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann's office has agreed and issued the following statement.
“A qualified voter who registers to vote 30 days before a runoff election for a federal office will be permitted to cast a ballot in that runoff election,” Mississippi Assistant Attorney General Harold Pizzetta wrote on behalf of Hosemann.
The change potentially impacts any runoff following the November election for the upcoming U.S. Senate race.
“Eligible Mississippians will continue to suffer the denial of their right to register to vote up to 30 days prior to future federal runoff elections — including in the event the Nov. 6, 2018, special election for United States Senator goes to a runoff on Nov. 27, 2018,” the civil rights group lawyers wrote.
The special election on Nov. 6 is to fill the final two years of a six-year Senate term held by former U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.
Cochran retired in April and Gov. Phil Bryant appointed the former State Agriculture Commissioner, Cindy Hyde-Smith, to succeed Cochran.
Hyde-Smith faces three challengers in the nonpartisan special election and there will be a runoff if no candidate receives a majority of votes.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at email@example.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252