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AG: Observers, voters, workers only ones allowed at the polls

DAILY LEADER / KATIE WILLIAMSON / Montiel Beeson casts her ballot in the Republican Senate primary runoff election at the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce polling place Tuesday.

DAILY LEADER / KATIE WILLIAMSON / Montiel Beeson casts her ballot in the Republican Senate primary runoff election at the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce polling place Tuesday.

As state voters go to the polls today in the Democratic and Republican Party primary runoff election, observers from both the Mississippi secretary of state’s Office and the state attorney general’s office will be in Mississippi counties on Election Day.

The attorney general’s office noted that state law provides that in primary elections, the only persons who may lawfully be within 30 feet of the polls are:

• Voters approaching the polls, voting, and leaving the polling place

• The poll managers (poll workers)

• One poll watcher appointed, in writing, by each candidate whose name appears on the ballot

State law also states that it is the duty of the bailiff poll manager to prevent interference with the election and to keep the polling place clear of persons not authorized to be in the polling place, the attorney general’s office said in a press release. The bailiff may call upon other law enforcement officials for assistance in enforcing the law.

There is no authority in state law for a PAC or other outside group to place “election observers” in Mississippi polling places, the news release said.

Also regarding the election, the attorney general’s office noted that crossover voting is prohibited in the Mississippi. Crossover voting is defined as participation in the first primary of one political party and participation in the runoff primary of another party.

Thus, a voter who cast his/her ballot in the Democratic Primary Election on June 3 is prohibited from voting in the Republican Primary Runoff Election on June 24, and vice versa.

The attorney general’s press release also noted that a person offering to vote may be challenged based upon the following grounds:

• The voter is not a registered voter in the precinct,

• The voter is not registered under the name he/she has applied to vote,

• The voter has already voted in the election,

• The voter is not a resident in the precinct where he/she is registered,

• The voter has illegally registered to vote,

• The voter has removed his/her ballot from the polling place, and

• The voter is otherwise disqualified by law.

A person lawfully in the polling place may challenge a voter based on party loyalty only if the voter openly declares he does not intend to support the nominees of the party whose primary the voter is participating in.

Any criminal violation of Mississippi law should be reported to the local District Attorney’s Office and/or the office of the attorney general.