Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has convened a panel tasked with examining possible changes to the state's voting and elections practices. Hosemann believes the panel should focus on tweaking the Magnolia state's party primary system.
A 51-member group consisting of local and county officials, lawmakers, students and scholars has been tasked by the Secretary of State to review Mississippi's election laws. Hosemann says that over the next two months, the panel will hopefully craft a recommendation that he will take to the legislature next year.
"This is the most basic right what we’re talking about here," says Hosemann. "We want to talk about open and closed primaries. We want to talk about who runs the primaries, whether Republicans run them, Democrats. Do the election commissioners run them? Do the municipal clerks run them? We want to talk about early voting. All of those will be on the agenda."
Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler was also present at the meeting. His state has changed its primary system twice in recent years -- first moving to a closed primary and then back to an open one. He has some advice for Mississippi as it debates changes.
"If Mississippi elects to go whether it be open or closed; be consistent," Schedler says. "Do not separate and have different system from federal to state and local. It was a huge mistake we made. It caused a lot of confusion with not only the vote, but the commissioners who were working the elections, staff and even the press."
Republican Andy Gipson of Braxton is a member of the House Apportions and Elections committee. He says he looking forward to hearing what recommendations the group comes up with.
"I think we're looking forward to seeing the product of this," Gipson says. "At least some recommendation, perhaps as one of the participants said some ways to enforce the current system we have better. To make sure that the law does mean something."
Representatives from Mississippi's Republican and Democratic parties were also in attendance at the meeting, both felt lawmakers should be cautious of making any major changes to the state's election system.