Progressive Revival

Mississippi‘s Republican Governor and Secretary State are turning the November ballot upside down in Magnolia state. They are putting a race for the United State’s Senate, the most high-profile race in the state, at the end of the ballot. The other Senate race remains at the top of ballot, right after the Presidential candidates, where the law says federal races should go.

Governor Haley Barbour and Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman have a problem. Roger Wicker, their Republican nominee for Trent Lott’s vacated Senate seat is struggling against the hard working and popular Democrat, former Governor Ronnie Musgrove.

Their answer to the problem: be creative, ignore the law and manipulate the ballot. I guess you could say that they are going old school on the voters.

It’s even happening in the dark of night. One local election official filed a suit to stop this travesty and a local court agreed. But Governor Barbour called on his friends at Mississippi’s Republican leaning Supreme Court to intervene. They did, after work hours. They overturned the lower court’s ruling and green lighted the manipulated ballots. The Secretary of State then sent out the manipulated ballots… in the middle of the night.

Yes, hide the senate race at the end of the ballot where some may not find it and do it during the dark of night. Many voters such as the elderly, less educated and first-time voters have trouble with long and complicated ballots and these voters are likely Democrats.

So, what is the backroom motivation of these Republican politicians? Rocket scientists not needed to figure this one out.

I’m a Mississippian by birth and the grace of God. I love my state and such tactics anger me. I grew up in the home of a county Sheriff and every four years we walked door to door and campaigned for re-election. My earliest memories are sitting in church pews listening to pastors remember the recent past where manipulations took place to disenfranchise voters and ensure the status quo followed by the encouragement to go register, vote and “let your voice be heard” because it’s a new day, a better day.

The Governor and Secretary of State can argue all they want that because the Senate race is a “special election” it should go at the end of the ballot. Hogwash. Hokum. Honey, where’s the shovel? No law and no precedent would place it there… self-serving, old school, backroom, win at all costs politics is putting it at the end.

And the voters lose.

We can do better. Common ground is found on higher ground. This is taking place in 2008 and the losers are the voters, white and black, old and young, poor and rich. We all lose because political calculation, win at all costs by an elite establishment, blackens the eyes of justice and inclusiveness falls by the turn-rows. Mississippians deserve better.

See related articles: Secretary of State distributes disputed Miss. ballot– Emily Wagster Pettus, Associated Press/Sun Herald and Mississippi’s Ballot Trick– New York Times

Burns Strider is former Senior Advisor and Director of Faith Outreach for U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, former advisor to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and currently a director of, and founding partner at the Eleison Group.



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