The Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office and the Mississippi Attorney General’s office said observers from both offices will be present in Mississippi counties on election day Tuesday.
“Observers from both the Secretary of State’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office will be in Mississippi counties on Election Day,” the offices said Monday in a joint statement providing guidance on election day.
The statement also said that “there is no authority in state law for a PAC or other outside group to place ‘election observers’ in Mississippi polling places.”
Outside groups supporting state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-MS), who is challenging Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) in the runoff for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, say they plan to dispatch poll watchers to keep track of the turnout operation for Cochran to make sure the law is being followed.
Adam Brandon, the executive vice president for the conservative outside group FreedomWorks, told TPM that the observers will be looking for voters who voted in the Democratic primary who are trying to vote in the Republican runoff.
“If you voted in the Democratic primary, you are not eligible to vote in the Republican primary. So that being said, if you’re a Democratic voter and you’ve decided you’re going to vote in the Republican primary and you didn’t vote in the Democratic primary well go for it,” Brandon said. “But if you did vote in the Democratic primary —and there’s files to check and all of that— we just want to make sure that stuff is being done to make sure that people can’t be voting twice in this election.”
Below is the full guidance issued by the Mississippi Attorney General office and the Secretary of State’s office on election night:
Observers from both the Secretary of State’s Office and the Attorney General’s Office will be in Mississippi counties on Election Day. Matters of particular relevance:
Poll watchers in polling place
Miss. Code Ann. Sections 23-15-245 and 23-15-577 provide that in primary elections the only persons who may lawfully be within 30 feet of the polls are:
1) Voters approaching the polls, voting, and leaving the polling place
2) The poll managers (pollworkers),
3) One pollwatcher appointed, in writing, by each candidate whose name appears on the ballot
Miss. Code Ann. Section 23-15-245 states that it is the duty of the bailiff poll manager to prevent interference with the election and to keep the polling place clear of persons not authorized to be in the polling place. The bailiff may call upon other law enforcement officials for assistance in enforcing the law.
There is no authority in state law for a PAC or other outside group to place “election observers” in Mississippi polling places.
Crossover voting prohibited
Crossover voting is prohibited in the State of Mississippi. Crossover voting is defined as participation in the first primary of one political party and participation in the runoff primary of another party. Thus, a voter who cast his/her ballot in the Democratic Primary Election on June 3 is prohibited from casting his/her ballot in the Republican Primary Runoff Election on June 24, and vice versa. See MS AG Op.,Brown (April 7, 1988).
A person offering to vote may be challenged based upon the following grounds:
1) The voter is not a registered voter in the precinct,
2) The voter is not registered under the name he/she has applied to vote,
3) The voter has already voted in the election,
4) The voter is not a resident in the precinct where he/she is registered,
5) The voter has illegally registered to vote,
6) The voter has removed his/her ballot from the polling place, and
7) The voter is otherwise disqualified by law.
A person lawfully in the polling place may challenge a voter based on party loyalty only if the voter openly declares he does not intend to support the nominees of the party whose primary the voter is participating in.
Any criminal violation of Mississippi law should be reported to the local District Attorney’s Office and/or the Office of the Attorney General.
(Pictured: Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.)