Six-term incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and challenger Chris McDaniel, a state senator from Ellisville, will vie in a June 24 runoff election after neither garnered the required majority vote count to capture the nomination in Tuesday’s Republican Party primary. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, whose office oversees elections in the state, answers three questions about the upcoming runoff and about Tuesday’s first primary from Daily Journal capitol correspondent Bobby Harrison.
Q: What are the rules for a party runoff election? Who can vote? Who cannot? The time the polls are open will remain the same?
A: For every election, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Citizens who were eligible to vote in the June 3 primary election are eligible to vote in the June 24 primary runoff. If an eligible voter did not participate in the June 3 primary election, the voter may vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary runoff. The state of Mississippi does not allow “crossover” voting. Meaning, if a voter cast a ballot in the Democratic primary, he/she must cast a ballot in the Democratic primary runoff. If a voter cast a ballot in the Republican primary, he/she must cast a ballot in the Republican primary runoff.
Q: What is the role of the Secretary of State’s office in the process? Don’t the political parties actually certify the results?
A: All primary elections in the state of Mississippi are run by the respective state parties. State law requires the transmittal of certified election results to the state party executive committees of the Democratic and Republican parties. The state party executive committees compile the certified results from each county and certify their election results. The Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office does not certify the results of a primary election. The certification is performed by the state party executive committees. The state executive committees have 10 days from the date of the election to submit (June 13, 2014) certified results to the Secretary of State’s Office. The Secretary of State’s Office only accepts the certified results by the state executive committees on behalf of the state of Mississippi.
Q: This will be the second election in which people are required to display a government-issued photo identification to vote. Did it go well on Tuesday, and are there any changes needed for the June 24 runoff?
A: Voter ID went extremely well on Tuesday. It appears 99.9 percent of voters voted with acceptable photo ID. The remaining 0.1 percent will have until next Tuesday to return with photo ID or have one issued at the Circuit Clerk’s Office for free. The primary election was a historic day in Mississippi. It was a day where Mississippians came together and implemented a constitutional voter ID requirement in our state, without federal intervention. There was a time when Mississippi could not implement any change in voting procedure without federal approval. We closed a chapter in our state’s history, and I am encouraged about our state’s future.