Miss Secretary of State explains voter registration errors in Tuesday’s runoff

JACKSON, Miss. (WTOK) – Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson released a statement late Tuesday about an error that caused some people’s voter registrations to not appear on the poll books for the second round. Watson said the error went undetected until a circuit clerk pointed it out on Tuesday afternoon.

The registration deadline for the second round was actually May 31, since May 30 was a public holiday (Memorial Day). However, the calendar selection was not changed in the statewide election management system. Thus, those registered on May 31 were not on the ballot for the second round of June 28.

In cases where a name is not on the poll book, voters in Mississippi can file an affidavit ballot, which is then verified and the ballot counted if the records verify the voter’s registration. This would be the case for any election in Mississippi and safeguards against anyone disenfranchised due to a glitch or error.

Watson said his office records show it affected 187 voters in total: 45 in Congressional District 2, 68 in Congressional District 3 and 74 in Congressional District 4.

Watson apologized for the error. His full statement released on Tuesday evening is below:
Earlier today, our office issued a voter registration alert regarding a schedule selection error in the statewide election management system (SEMS). Transparency is one of the main pillars of election integrity, which is why I believe it is essential to provide voters in Mississippi with additional context about how this error occurred.
After the primary election was certified by the appropriate statewide executive committees, the office of the Mississippi Secretary of State began preparing for the primary election runoff in the SEMS. When this task is completed, SEMS automatically sets the registration deadline according to state law. In this case, automatic selection set the voter registration deadline for May 30, 2022, which fell on the Memorial Day holiday.
According to the Mississippi Election Code, when the voter registration deadline falls on a Sunday or a holiday, the voter registration deadline must be moved to the next business day, which would have been May 31, 2022. Unfortunately, our office inadvertently failed to correct the date in SEMS and did not learn of the error until a circuit clerk pointed it out this afternoon.
Due to monitoring, voters with an effective registration date of May 31, 2022 would not appear on the poll book for their precinct. This includes anyone who registered in person, posted a registration request by mail, or registered in any other acceptable manner on May 31, 2022.
Our records show it affected 187 voters: 45 in Congressional District 2, 68 in Congressional District 3, and 74 in Congressional District 4. Affected voters were instructed to vote by affidavit at their polling station. Local election officials will review affidavit ballots and accept all of them with an effective registration date no later than May 31, 2022. While affected individuals were still eligible to vote, the experience was not quite the same, and for that we sincerely apologize.
This is the first time this issue has occurred, and our team has already set up logistics to prevent this issue from happening again in the future. Voter confidence is of the utmost importance to me, and we will continue to work hard to remain the premier resource for reliable voter information in Mississippi.
MICHAEL WATSON
Secretary of State
Mississippi State

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