Deficiencies in Balloting in Mississippi Raise Democratic Concerns During Gubernatorial Vote

by Andrew Wright
Mississippi ballot shortages

The shortage of ballots at various polling stations in Hinds County, Mississippi’s most populous region, has sparked demands for an explanation. The shortfall occurred on a critical election day when Mississippians were casting their votes in one of the most hotly contested gubernatorial elections in recent history.

The extent to which potential voters were disenfranchised by leaving before casting their vote remains uncertain. The lapse in election administration has caused a stir, especially given the state’s troubled history of civil rights struggles to ensure African American suffrage.

“In a democracy, the inability to vote strikes at the heart of our system,” stated Paloma Wu, an attorney with the Mississippi Center for Justice. Wu filed one of the two lawsuits that sought extended hours for polling stations in Hinds County.

Republican incumbent Tate Reeves prevailed over Democrat Brandon Presley in what was Mississippi’s most costly gubernatorial contest.

Black citizens make up approximately 40% of Mississippi’s demographic profile. Presley, a state utility regulator and relative of the legendary musician Elvis Presley, actively sought to garner support from African American voters. His campaign hinged significantly on voter turnout in Hinds County, which encompasses the state capital, Jackson.

51-year-old Otis Wells recounted the excessive wait times he and his family experienced at a voting site in Clinton, a suburb of Jackson. Despite a considerable wait for ballot replenishment, Wells and others were able to vote. Nonetheless, the number of ballots delivered fell short of the number of voters waiting, and this discrepancy persisted several hours before the close of polls.

“It’s frustrating; it makes you suspect underhanded tactics,” commented Wells, reflecting on the situation the following day.

Officials from the Hinds County Election Commission were unavailable for comment. The county leadership is composed of African American Democrats, both on the Board of Supervisors and the Election Commission.

County administrator Kenny Wayne Jones clarified that financial constraints should not have contributed to the shortage, asserting the Election Commission had adequate funding for ballot procurement.

Legal action was initiated by organizations seeking to prolong voting time on election night. Mississippi Votes, a nonpartisan entity, and the Mississippi Republican Party supported one lawsuit, while another was brought forth by the Mississippi Democratic Party.

Hinds County polling locations were ordered to stay open until 8 p.m. CST, an extension of one hour, as per the Democrats’ lawsuit. The other legal action resulted in four precincts being allowed to remain open until 9 p.m.

Paloma Wu represented Mississippi Votes in their legal filing. Collaborating with groups like the Poor People’s Campaign and Legal Defense Fund, they aimed to safeguard voters’ rights. However, the Mississippi Center for Justice did not review demographic data for the precincts that exhausted their ballot supplies.

The response to the ballot shortages was patchwork at best, according to Wu, with only minimal replenishments arriving at precincts.

Zack Wallace, Hinds County’s chief election officer, detailed the frantic efforts to remedy the shortages, including a last-minute dash to acquire more printing supplies.

Secretary of State Michael Watson outlined various issues that plagued Hinds County on election day, including a precinct opening late, several running out of ballots, and one precinct implementing emergency voting procedures.

Complications were detailed in the lawsuit from Mississippi Votes, including a precinct in Clinton with a glaring disparity between the number of voters in line and the ballots available shortly before the polls were scheduled to close.

Another issue raised involved poll workers turning voters away from a precinct that had run out of ballots with no plans to replenish them.

A young voter, Hannah Hoang, experienced difficulties voting when she was turned away due to a purportedly late arrival, despite her awareness of a court order extending voting time.

Clerk Wallace recounted the challenges in meeting the demand for ballots, which included a shortage of ink that thwarted printing efforts.

Following these events, voting rights advocates, including the League of Women Voters of Mississippi, have voiced their concern and are seeking to address these ballot access issues.

The Secretary of State’s office, through spokesperson Elizabeth Holbert Jonson, clarified that while they can audit election results, investigating local election procedures falls outside their purview, leaving the Election Commission to answer for the day’s failings.

The report was provided by Alexander from Washington.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Mississippi ballot shortages

What caused the ballot shortages in Hinds County, Mississippi?

The precise cause of the ballot shortages has not been publicly disclosed. However, Hinds County administrator Kenny Wayne Jones stated that a lack of funding was not the issue, as the Election Commission had sufficient funds to purchase the necessary ballots. It appears that a combination of logistical failures and higher than anticipated voter turnout contributed to the shortages.

How did the ballot shortages in Mississippi affect the election day process?

The shortages resulted in long wait times for voters, with some precincts receiving an insufficient number of ballots to meet voter demand. This led to legal actions demanding extended voting hours to accommodate those who had to wait or were turned away.

Were there any legal actions taken due to the ballot shortages?

Yes, two lawsuits were filed to extend polling hours in Hinds County. One was supported by the nonpartisan group Mississippi Votes and the Mississippi Republican Party, while the other was filed by the Mississippi Democratic Party. As a result, a judge ordered all Hinds County polling places to stay open an additional hour and four specific precincts to remain open until 9 p.m.

What was the outcome of the governor’s race in Mississippi?

Republican Governor Tate Reeves defeated Democratic challenger Brandon Presley in the gubernatorial race, which was the most expensive in Mississippi’s history.

Did the Mississippi Center for Justice check the demographics of the precincts affected by ballot shortages?

No, the Mississippi Center for Justice did not review the demographics of the precincts that ran out of ballots to determine if they were predominantly Black, white, or evenly split.

What was the response of election officials to the ballot shortages?

Circuit Clerk Zack Wallace, the top election official in Hinds County, indicated that his office responded to ballot shortages by scrambling to print more ballots and delivering them to precincts. However, issues such as insufficient ballot quantities and a lack of printing supplies complicated these efforts.

More about Mississippi ballot shortages

  • Mississippi voting rights history
  • Hinds County demographics
  • Mississippi gubernatorial race
  • Election Day procedures and challenges
  • Voting rights legal actions in Mississippi
  • Role of the Mississippi Center for Justice in elections
  • Duties of election officials in Mississippi

You may also like


ElectionGeek November 9, 2023 - 2:58 pm

Demands for answers, lawsuits filed, mess on Election Day. Reeves won – but dis was a hot mess!

CuriousCat November 9, 2023 - 6:45 pm

Wu’s lawsuit, election observation, and lots of issues. Not enough ballots – dat’s no way to run elections!

Reader123 November 9, 2023 - 9:58 pm

Mississippi votin’ had sum serious issues, makin’ peeps waitin’ n’ shortages. Not gud for democracy!

ElectionWatcher22 November 10, 2023 - 3:43 am

Ballot probs – why dis happen? Missed opportunity to vote’s a shame. Precincts needed more prep!

HistoryNerd November 10, 2023 - 9:28 am

Hinds County’s got a history – dis ain’t right! More than 40% Black, need betta system.


Leave a Comment


BNB – Big Big News is a news portal that offers the latest news from around the world. BNB – Big Big News focuses on providing readers with the most up-to-date information from the U.S. and abroad, covering a wide range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, business, health, and more.

Editors' Picks

Latest News

© 2023 BBN – Big Big News