(McComb) Enterprise-Journal. May 7, 2021.

Editorial: Early voting can prevent fraud

Mississippi’s resistance to early voting — and the backtracking of other Republican-led states that previously were receptive to it — makes sense only if you consider it from a politically cynical perspective.

There’s a perception within the GOP — reinforced by Donald Trump’s loss last year in the presidential election — that early voting is more beneficial to Democrats than it is to Republicans, and thus the less of it the better.

This tilt toward Democratic candidates, if it exists at all, is a recent phenomenon and can be partly blamed on Trump himself. While Democrats last year were encouraging their supporters to cast ballots early, whether by mail or in-person, and to take advantage of pandemic-related expansions of those options, Trump was discouraging his voters from doing the same.

He wanted to create the narrative that the election was being stolen from him. The way he decided to try to build his case was to show a massive advantage in early voting for Joe Biden.

However, according to some election observers, this association between early voting and voter fraud has got it backward. Early voting doesn’t encourage fraud; it helps prevent it.

That’s what David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, recently told Mississippi Today. Becker, it should be noted, is not some partisan shill. He previously served under both Democratic and Republican administrations as a senior attorney in the U.S. Justice Department.

“The most secure states are those that allow for voting to be spread out over a series of days and series of methods,” Becker said. That’s because, if there are problems, it’s easier to catch and correct them if the volume of voting is spread out, rather than in a large rush at the end.

Unfortunately, Mississippi is one of just seven states that does not allow no-excuse early voting in any form. In this state, only the disabled, those who will be away from home on Election Day and those who are 65 and older are allowed to vote early. Mississippi relaxed those rules slightly to accommodate COVID-19 last fall.

At a minimum, Mississippi should allow anyone to vote early in-person, even if only at a circuit clerk’s office. Most people want the convenience, and the risk of fraud would be as minimal as it is with voting in person at a precinct on Election Day.

Nor is there any legitimate reason to assume in-person early voting would benefit one party more than another. It would benefit any party that encourages it, and both would have to if it became law.


Neshoba Democrat. May 5, 2021.

Editorial: The racism problem

Sen. Tim Scott, a black conservative from South Carolina whose family in one lifetime went from picking cotton to the United States Senate, declared last week, responding to President Biden’s State of the Union Address, that “America is not a racist country.”

It’s important to be honest about our country’s racist past, he said, something we know a lot about here in Neshoba County and have worked hard to reconcile and advance together.

A liberal Jackson blog by Monday was lampooning Gov. Tate Reeves for agreeing with Scott that systemic racism does not exist, citing loose statistics such as 64% of incarcerated people in Mississippi are black, despite only making up 38% of the state’s total population while ignoring the reality of who is committing the crime or seeking real, meaningful solutions such as better education.

Scott is one of the GOP’s rising superstars because of his conservative principles and his willingness to push back against liberal Democrats who quickly and shamefully labeled him an “Uncle Tim” after his State of the Union response.

What scares Democrats is that Tim Scott speaks for many black Americans when he tells us that his own personal experience demonstrates systemic racism does not exist in America.

We believe Sen. Scott when he says systemic racism does not exist in America, yet we know that he and many of our black and Native American friends have been victims of racism. Racism still exists, yet Sen. Scott gave the nation a prescription.

Race is not a political weapon to settle every issue the way Democrats want, he said. It’s too important, as we know here.

“Our best future won’t come from Washington schemes or socialist dreams,” Scott said in his address. “It will come from you — the American people. Black, Hispanic, white and Asian. Republican and Democrat. Brave police officers and Black neighborhoods. We are not adversaries. We are family! We are all in this together.”

Sen. Scott went on to say, “I am standing here because my mom has prayed me through some very tough times. I believe our nation has succeeded the same way. Because generations of Americans, in their own ways, have asked for grace — and God has supplied it.”

And Sen. Scott mentioned the national conversation on race many in our community have been a part of for going on six decades because young James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were murdered here in a state that practically invented systemic racism, ginned up hatred, committed murders yet in more recent years has turned to repentance and reconciliation.

“I’m an African-American who has voted in the South all my life,” Scott said. “I take voting rights personally. Republicans support making it easier to vote and harder to cheat. And so do voters! Big majorities of Americans support early voting, and big majorities support Voter I.D. — including African-Americans and Hispanics. Common sense makes common ground.

“But today, this conversation has collapsed. The state of Georgia passed a law that expands early voting; preserves no-excuse mail-in voting; and, despite what the President claimed, did not reduce Election Day hours. If you actually read this law, it’s mainstream. It will be easier to vote early in Georgia than in Democrat-run New York. But the left doesn’t want you to know that. They want people to virtue-signal by yelling about a law they haven’t even read.”

The national conversation on race has collapsed, but Sen. Scott’s words and his passion give hope that we can overcome this wretched politicization of race in America.

Indeed, we are not adversaries. We are all Americans and should fix our eyes on repentance of our sins and racial reconciliation.


(Columbus) The Dispatch. May 6, 2021.

Editorial: Local government should be transparent in hiring processes

Next month, we will go to the polls to choose who will represent us in our city governments. This form of direct representation is important for a variety of reasons, but there are other important positions that are not chosen by the voters, but by the people we vote into office.

Making the right hires for department heads and other key positions is arguably one of the most important tasks of our elected officials because they have such a bearing on the operations of our governments.

Monday, the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors made one such hire, choosing county comptroller Delois Farmer to replace Emily Garrard who is retiring in June as county administrator.

Similarly, the city of Columbus will choose a new chief operations officer to replace David Armstrong, who announced in March he will retire at the end of June.

We hope Columbus will be more transparent in the hiring process than Oktibbeha County proved to be.

Meaning no disrespect to Farmer, who has worked for the county for 23 years, the process by which the supervisors made their choice left much to be desired when it comes to the public’s reasonable right to know basic details of the process.

The supervisors interviewed four finalists in a “public” meeting, but failed to alert the media about the meeting or otherwise promote it. In fact, the names and qualifications of the finalists were only made widely public when an unnamed source provided their resumes to The Dispatch.

While we recognize these hires are not made by residents but by the people we choose to represent us, providing residents the opportunity to learn about the candidates and their qualifications affirms these elected boards are doing the people’s bidding and not their own.

That said, there are reasonable limitations.

These jobs are not unlike many private sector jobs in the sense that some candidates ask for anonymity when applying for the job. Presumably, the candidates are already employed and may fear that applying for another job could jeopardize their current position. That’s understandable.

If providing anonymity means attracting a bigger field of candidates, it’s hard to make a case against the practice.

But at some point, making public the identity and qualifications of job candidates for key positions is important. That point, we believe, is when the finalists are chosen.

To date, Columbus residents know next to nothing about the search for a new COO. A job post for the position was made on the city’s website in March but has since been removed. We do not know the qualifications the city has established, how many candidates have applied or even the process through which a new COO will be chosen.

Providing that information does not compromise the search or expose candidates against their wishes. What it does do is assure the public that the process is thorough, fair and designed to identify the very best candidate for this important position.

When the city council does narrow the field of candidates, we hope they will share the finalists’ qualifications.

The final decision belongs to our elected representatives, but that does not mean the decision must be made in secrecy. Sharing that information gives residents the sense that the choice will be made on merit.

It inspires confidence rather than feeds suspicion.