Hosemann: Election dispute shows need for reforms

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A dispute over a recent election in Jefferson Davis County is aprime example of why a comprehensive voter reform act is needed,said Republican Secretary of State candidate Delbert Hosemann.

Hosemann, visiting The DAILY LEADER office the same day as ajudge set aside the Jefferson Davis County election for circuitclerk, said recent poll results by a Virginia-based companyindicated voter distrust and belief of widespread abuse of theelection system in Mississippi.

“You had everything there (in Jefferson Davis County) – a deadman voting, a man voting while in the (hospital) ICU, absentee andaffidavit ballots and the need for more poll worker education,”Hosemann said.

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Later on Tuesday, Judge Forrest Johnson ordered a new primaryelection for circuit clerk after he found a “clear and distinctfinding that the will of the (Jefferson Davis County) voters cannotbe ascertained.”

Besides obvious voter fraud in two instances, the judge citedirregularities in the handling of absentee and affidavit ballotsalong with general confusion during the counting and tallyingprocess on election night. He also criticized the county’sDemocratic Executive Committee for its lack of preparedness.

Incidents similar to the one in Jefferson Davis County have andare occurring in voting precincts across the state, Hosemann said,citing elections in several counties ranging from north to southMississippi.

“The thing that was most disturbing about the poll was that 86percent of Mississippi voters believe there is election fraud, andthat questions the integrity of the whole voting process,” Hosemannsaid.

“We trust our own polling precincts, but there are others thatare leaking,” he said. “They may have already stolen your vote. Itdoesn’t matter if the stolen vote supports your candidate orwhether it’s Republican or Democrat. It’s wrong no matter how theyvoted.”

Hosemann, who has campaigned heavily on the need for voteridentification, said a comprehensive voter reform act thataddresses every aspect of the process is the only way to restorevoter confidence in the system.

“While the bright light is on voter ID, in the shadows are allthese other issues. There is an absolute need for a voter reformact that includes voter ID and all other issues,” he said.

A poll of Mississippi voters conducted by Public OpinionStrategies of Alexandria, Va., on Sept. 25 and 26 indicates that amajority of state voters support voter ID, Hosemann said.

When asked if they “favor or oppose a law that would requirevoters to produce valid identification, such as a driver’s licenseor utility bill, when they go to vote,” 90 percent of the thosepolled said they would support the law with 8 percent inopposition, Hosemann said.

The candidate said support for voter ID also crosses nearly allboundaries with 95 percent of the the state’s white voters and 81percent of African-Americans in favor. Voter identification alsosmashed through party lines with support from 96 percent of theRepublicans, 91 percent of the independents and 85 percent of theDemocrats.

Additionally, Hosemann said, the poll indicated hardly anyvoters would be inconvenienced by having to provide the informationwhen registering to cast their ballot at the precinct.

“We did a poll that shows 97 percent of people that went to thepolls had voter ID information with them,” he said.

Hosemann will meet Democratic nominee Rob Smith in the generalelection Nov. 6. In published reports, Smith has called voter ID adivisive issue that will stop people from voting.