Democrats Challenge November Ballot Order

By: Jon Kalahar Email
By: Jon Kalahar Email

Because Trent Lott retired before his term as a U.S. senator was complete, a special election will be held to determine who will replace him. That special election is being held Nov. 4, the same time as regular federal elections.

In Mississippi, special elections have always been placed at the bottom of the ballot. But Democrats see that practice as hurting their chances of winning.

On the Secretary of State's recommendation, Gov. Haley Barbour approved the sample ballot to be used in November's election. It will include the race for president, two U. S. Senate seats and the entire Mississippi Supreme Court.

But it's where the race between Sen. Roger Wicker and former governor Ronnie Musgrove is actually located on the ballot that was called into question.

"What I saw today was an absolutely lawless decision of the secretary of state and the governor," said Tim Phillips, Musgrove's campaign manager.

Phillips wanted the Wicker-Musgrove race moved up the ballot. Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, concurred, citing a change in the Mississippi code in 2000 that lays out the ballot with national races first and statewide races to follow.

Hosemann and Barbour disagreed saying the special election must be clearly marked for voters and Mississippi has always done that by placing at the end of the ballot.

"It seems to me this is a special election and we need to follow the rules we've always followed," said Hosemann.

Plus, the new electronic voting booths notify voters if they did not vote on a particular race.

"You'd have to three times determine that you do not want to vote in this election," said Barbour. "You have to push the button to say, 'I'm not going to vote in that election'."

Hosemann said in the 2007 election, voting from the top of the ballot to the bottom dropped off less than two percent, a minimal amount by his estimation. The Musgrove campaign believes this will confuse voters.

"People are going to see millions of dollars in advertising on this race and then they are going to go looking for it and it's not going to be at the top of the ballot," said Phillips.

But the issue isn't over. Pike County Election commissioner Trudy Berger has filed a temporary restraining order against Hosemann to keep him from sending out the ballots. Berger said she feels voters will be confused and skip the race unintentionally. She is asking the Hinds County Circuit Court to place the race at the top of the ballot.

Gov. Barbour issued a news release late Tuesday afternoon, saying in part, "When Democrat Eric Clark was Secretary of State, the sample ballots he prepared in 2002, 2004 and 2006 included special elections at the end of the sample ballot. In each of those years, Secretary Clark also included specific instructions to the county election commissioners that special elections should be placed at the end of the ballot. Then-Governor Ronnie Musgrove approved the 2002 sample ballot prepared by Secretary Clark. I approved the 2004 and 2006 sample ballots prepared by Secretary Clark. Now, Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has taken exactly the same position as his Democratic predecessor. My position on the placement of special elections on the ballot has remained the same. I approved the sample ballots prepared by Eric Clark and Delbert Hosemann, both with special elections at the end of the ballot."

When special elections are held at same time as regular elections, where do you think they should be listed?

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Dave on Sep 10, 2008 at 07:53 PM
    They sure ARE a bunch of whiners. Not to mention hypocrites.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 10, 2008 at 07:17 PM
    If Democrats did not cheat, there would be none in office. Give 'em what they want and still watch 'em cry in November.
  • by David Location: Stonewall on Sep 9, 2008 at 06:46 PM
    If all of the previous special election ballots were at the bottom, after the 2000 law that are "Great" Attorney General talks about, then why did he not contest the placement on the ballot when his buddy made up the ballots. Again the Dems are playing politics. Like Mary Jo and John said, voting is not rocket science. Also, if you aren't smart enough to double check you ballot to make sure that you voted on every election, you should not be voting anyway.
  • by John on Sep 9, 2008 at 03:22 PM
    If you are too stupid to find the bottom of a ballot then you probably won't find your voter precinct anyway. Mary Jo is right! Voting is not rocket science.
  • by Mary Jo Location: Enterprise on Sep 9, 2008 at 03:04 PM
    I remember a day when democrats were always listed first in races, instead of the candidates being alphabetical. If there was a benefit we'll never know. I just hope people who vote have the sense to know who they want to vote for and then do it. Voting isn't rocket science.
  • by Anonymous on Sep 9, 2008 at 02:47 PM
    I have news for Ronnie Musgrove. He will not win no matter where the senate race is on the ballot. We didn't want him for a second term as governor and we don't want him representing us in congress.
  • by Dave on Sep 9, 2008 at 02:44 PM
    How do Ronnie Musgrove's campaign folks know that their candidate will be hurt by the order of the ballot more so that Roger Wicker? How do they get to determine what is the most important race on the ballot? Isn't that an individual decision? Musgrove's campaign manager talked about "all the money spent on this race". So the importance of the race is how much money is being spent? That is what should drive our election decisions, Tim Phillips?!
  • by Ruth on Sep 9, 2008 at 02:38 PM
    Attention: All Democrat voters! Your party and Ronnie Musgrove think you are a) too stupid to complete your ballot, or b) too lazy to complete your ballot. Is this the candidate you want to support? One who thinks you are lazy or stupid?
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