A panel charged with examining Mississippi's election laws will recommend that lawmakers implement early voting and online voter registration during the next legislative session. The group believes the changes will increase voter turnout.
For the third and final time, members of the Secretary of State's Study Group to Review Mississippi's Election Laws met in Jackson yesterday, to discuss how the state can improve its election process. The group has recommended a series of reforms aimed at making the voting process easier and more accessible. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says his office will gather the recommendations and present them to lawmakers next year.
"It carries a lot of weight because of the demographics of the people that were in here, and in addition to that the depth of the research that went in here," says Hosemann. "We'll give the Legislature what they need to make a good decision."
David Blount of Jackson, is the vice-chair of the Senate Elections Committee. He says the recommendations prove there is bipartisan support for making voting easier in Mississippi.
"I don't think these are partisan changes," Blount says. "We're all about getting Mississippians to go vote, more Mississippians to go vote, making it easier to go vote, and I don't think that's a party issue."
The panel was divided on specific changes to the state's party primary system. The debate is between the current primary structure, or one in which the top two vote getter would run agonist each other regardless of party affiliation. Jim Overstreet is a retired lawyer from Madison, and the panel's chairman.
"We will have, not necessarily, a recommendation one over the other, but that those are the things that we talked about and found to be important," Overstreet says. "Hopefully something will come out of that that the legislature decides.
Before any changes can be made to the state's election laws, the legislature must first give its approval.