RELEASE: Secretary of State’s Office reviews Absentee Ballots in Hattiesburg Special Election

Jackson, Miss.—The Secretary of State’s Office performed a review of all absentee ballot envelopes and applications in the September 24, 2013 Special Election for Hattiesburg Mayor.

“This election was conducted on the municipal level and not by the Secretary of State’s Office,” says Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. “Following the election, our Agency went through each absentee ballot envelope and application to review whether or not state law was followed when accepting or rejecting an absentee ballot.”

Absentee ballot envelopes marked “REJECTED” by poll workers should not have been opened or counted at the Courthouse, while absentee ballot envelopes marked “ACCEPTED” by poll workers should have been opened and counted at the Courthouse. The Secretary of State’s Office cannot make any determination whether or not ballots marked as “REJECTED,” “ACCEPTED” or were not marked “ACCEPTED or REJECTED” were actually opened and/or counted at the Courthouse.

Only absentee ballot envelopes and/or applications were provided. The Secretary of State’s Office received no actual ballots. The complete materials were made available to the Secretary of State’s office by the Municipal Clerk’s Office in January 2014. Of the 1,048 absentee ballots cast, 1,044 applications and/or envelopes were provided.

“Poll workers provide a valuable service to the State in assisting with elections. However, these municipal poll workers ordinarily may only conduct one election every four years. Poll workers are trained by election commissioners and this report shows what I have long advocated–more rigorous training for our poll workers,” says Secretary Hosemann.

“I plan to recommend an application system for our poll workers and an expanded training curriculum to better prepare for the election process,” says Dr. Joe Kinnan, Chair of the Hattiesburg Municipal Election Commission, citing the report as “well organized” and containing “useful information.”