Miss. Secretary of State explains voter registration errors in Tuesday’s runoffs
JACKSON, Miss. (WTOK) - Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson issued a statement Tuesday evening about an error that caused some people’s voter registrations to not appear on pollbooks for the primary runoff. Watson said the error went undetected until a circuit clerk reported it Tuesday afternoon.
The registration deadline for the primary runoff was actually May 31, since May 30 was a holiday (Memorial Day). However, the calendar selection was not altered in the Statewide Election Management System. So people registering May 31 did not show on pollbooks for the June 28 runoff.
In cases where a name is not in the pollbook, voters in Mississippi may cast an affidavit ballot, which is then checked and the ballot counted if records verify the voter’s registration. This would be the case for any election in Mississippi and safeguards against anyone being disenfranchised because of a glitch or error.
Watson said his office records show this affected 187 total voters: 45 in Congressional District 2, 68 in Congressional District 3, and 74 in Congressional District 4.
|Watson apologized for the error. His full statement issued Tuesday evening is below:|
|Earlier today, our office issued a voter registration alert regarding a calendar selection error in the Statewide Election Management System (SEMS). Transparency is a primary pillar of election integrity, which is why I believe it is essential to provide Mississippi voters with further context as to how that error occurred.|
After the Primary Election was certified by the appropriate Statewide Executive Committees, the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office began preparing for the primary runoff elections in the SEMS. When this task is performed, SEMS automatically sets the registration deadline in accordance with state law. In this case, the automatic selection set the voter registration deadline as May 30, 2022, which fell on the Memorial Day holiday.
According to Mississippi Election Code, when the voter registration deadline falls on a Sunday or holiday, the voter registration deadline should be moved to the following business day, which would have been May 31, 2022. Unfortunately, our office inadvertently missed correcting the date in SEMS and did not become aware of the error until a Circuit Clerk reported it this afternoon.
Due to the oversight, voters who have an effective voter registration date of May 31, 2022, would not appear in the pollbook at their precinct. This includes anyone who registered in person, postmarked a mail-in registration application, or registered in any other acceptable way on May 31, 2022.
Our records show this affected 187 voters: 45 in Congressional District 2, 68 in Congressional District 3, and 74 in Congressional District 4. Affected voters were instructed to cast an affidavit ballot at their polling place. Local election officials will review affidavit ballots and accept all with an effective voter registration date on or before May 31, 2022. While those impacted were still allowed to vote, the experience was not quite the same, and for that, we sincerely apologize.
This is the first time this problem has occurred, and our team already has logistics in place to prevent this issue from occurring in the future. Voter confidence is of the utmost importance to me, and we will continue to work hard to remain the primary resource for trusted election information in Mississippi.
Secretary of State
State of Mississippi
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