Election Commission denies Wade ballot spot

By Bobby Harrison/Daily Journal

JACKSON – The state Election Commission ruled Tuesday that former University of Mississippi football player Todd Wade does not meet the constitutional qualifications to run for the Senate District 9 post.

Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood voted to deny Wade a spot on the ballot. Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, filling in for Gov. Haley Barbour, voted to certify him. Barbour also voiced support for certifying Wade during an earlier meeting.

Wade, 34, was the only candidate who qualified to run against incumbent Gray Tollison, D-Oxford. Tollison did not contest Wade’s qualifications, but the Secretary of State’s office discovered during its routine check of all candidates that there was no record of Wade registering to vote before September 2010 in Lafayette County.

The Constitution requires candidates to have been a qualified elector of the state for four years.

“I am opposed to pulling anybody off the ballot,” said Hosemann. “If I could have found any modicum of evidence …. I could not find anything indicating he was a registered elector before last September.”

Wade signed an affidavit saying he registered to vote about 15 years ago while a senior in high school. Rankin County Circuit Clerk Carol Swilley signed an affidavit saying there was “the possibility for human error” in accounting for the fact that there is no record of Wade registering to vote in Rankin County.

When Wade registered to vote in Lafayette County in September, he did not fill out a portion of the form asking if he was registered to vote at a different address. Wade told the commission he did not pay attention to that portion of the form.

Wade said he left Rankin County to attend Ole Miss and then played professional football for nine years. During that time, he did not try to vote. He moved to Oxford, he said, in January 2009 and voted in the November 2010 elections.

Wade’s attorneys argued that the Election Commission was exceeding its authority and not following proper procedures in denying Wade a spot on the ballot. The Secretary of State’s office said it was the same procedure that had been followed before and pointed to a 2006 decision when the Election Commission, including Barbour, voted to remove a judicial candidate from the ballot for residency issues.

Wade said Tuesday he had not decided whether to appeal the commission’s decision in court.

bobby.harrison@journalinc.com