Voting rights take center stage in tomorrow's election for secretary of state between Mississippi Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, and former Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, the Democratic nominee. Among other duties, the job entails overseeing State election processes and the State campaign finance system.
DuPree wants to take steps to not only increase access and participation at the voting booth, but to expand voter education. Still, in an interview with the Jackson Free Press in August, he said he would keep the current procedures in place for the state's voter-identification system that current Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, shepherded into place.
"Well, like I told everybody else, voter ID is the law," DuPree told the Jackson Free Press at the Neshoba County Fair in August. "I like to drive 85 miles-per-hour, but you can't in Mississippi, because that's not the law."
DuPree opposed the 2011 voter ID referendum that led to the current law when he ran for governor that year.
The law requires voters to show a photo ID when going to cast a ballot. Under Hosemann, voters are able to obtain IDs for free if they do not have another acceptable form of ID, such as a driver's license or college ID, at their local circuit clerk's office.
Watson helped draft the 2012 legislation that enacted the referendum's results.
"So being on the front end and understanding why we put those things in there and why we drafted it like we did so the federal government did not sue us, so that we had a good voter ID system in Mississippi—I think it's invaluable to have that experience to take that into the office with you," Watson said.
The Jackson Free Press reported at the time that fraud is more prevalent with mail-in absentee ballots than at the polls, which