As election issues in Mississippi’s most populous county continue to cause uproar, Secretary of State Michael Watson is defending his office after multiple precincts ran out of ballots during Tuesday’s general election.
Watson, who was reelected to a second term, said printing issues in Hinds County can be blamed on local election officials. According to him, they were not prepared for the expected influx of voters that he warned them about heading into Election Day.
“Leading up to Election Day, our team conducted weekly conference calls and distributed weekly memos for all local election officials,” Watson said. “Circuit clerks and election commissioners were provided legal parameters for every phase of the election, including guidance for implementation.”
After reports flooded in of precincts across Hinds County – which includes the capital city of Jackson – telling voters that they had run out of ballots and did not know when more would be available, a chancery court judge stepped in and ordered that polling locations across the county stay open until 8 p.m. The motion was then superseded by a specially appointed judge as multiple voters informed SuperTalk Mississippi News that they ended up not voting due to hours-long waits at the polls.
Watson further defended his office and the guidance provided to local officials by saying that polling operations were virtually perfect everywhere but Hinds County.
“Outside of the issues in one county, Mississippians should be proud of the success of Tuesday’s elections,” Watson said.
The issues in Hinds County have sparked speculation of conspiracy on the local level with some arguing that the idea of keeping polls open in the Democrat-laden county was intended to help Brandon Presley defeat incumbent Republican Gov. Tate Reeves. Reeves ended up winning by over four points.
Former Mississippi GOP chair Lucien Smith, a resident of Jackson, said such a scheme to alter an election is highly unlikely.
“I will say this having dealt with Hinds County election commission for a very long time. They are not competent enough to run an election and therefore, they are not competent enough to steal an election,” Smith said.
Following the top of the ticket, Republicans swept the board in all statewide races that have so far been called. At this time, we are not aware of any post-election lawsuits that have been filed regarding the matter in Hinds County.