Mississippi ex-felons oppose merger of 2 voting rights cases

Some former convicts who want to regain voting rights in Mississippi say their lawsuit should stand on its own and not be merged with a similar case.

Posted: Apr 23, 2018 6:50 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Some former convicts who want to regain voting rights in Mississippi say their lawsuit should stand on its own and not be merged with a similar case.

Two federal lawsuits are challenging Mississippi's system for restoring suffrage to people convicted of certain felonies. One was filed in September by the Mississippi Center for Justice and other attorneys, representing some former convicts. The other was filed in March by the Southern Poverty Law Center and other attorneys, with a different set of plaintiffs who had lost voting rights because of felony convictions.

The state's top elections official, Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, filed papers April 5 requesting consolidation of the two cases, which he said are similar. They are assigned to different judges.

Plaintiffs in the second case said in papers filed Thursday that the lawsuits should remain separate because they make different arguments about how Mississippi violates people's federal constitutional rights.

The Mississippi Constitution strips voting rights from people convicted of 10 felonies, including murder, forgery and bigamy. The attorney general later expanded that list to 22, adding crimes that included including timber larceny and carjacking.

To regain voting rights, a former convict must get permission from the governor and two-thirds of the Legislature.

Only 14 people have managed this from 2013 through 2017, and four more did during the 2018 legislative session.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is now in his seventh year in office, and has let suffrage restoration bills become law without his signature. This year, he let four become law without signing them and vetoed the fifth. In a brief veto message April 13, he said restoring voting rights depends on the support of law enforcement "and the person's ability to show responsibility and honesty after conviction."

Between 1994 and 2017, about 47,000 people in Mississippi were convicted of disenfranchising crimes, and about 60 percent of them have completed their sentences but have not regained their voting rights, said Jonathan K. Youngwood, a New York-based attorney in the March lawsuit. Some are still serving time.

African-Americans make up about 38 percent of Mississippi's population and 36.5 percent of the state's registered voters. Youngwood said 59 percent to 60 percent of people convicted of disenfranchising crimes in the state are black.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 97049

Reported Deaths: 2919
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7148160
DeSoto562361
Harrison388374
Jackson352170
Madison331289
Rankin330879
Lee274870
Forrest250075
Jones249879
Washington225977
Lafayette219340
Lauderdale2064125
Bolivar184766
Oktibbeha180152
Lamar172435
Neshoba1580104
Lowndes157958
Panola150731
Sunflower147346
Leflore141381
Warren140950
Pontotoc127916
Pike124051
Monroe123669
Copiah119233
Scott117627
Coahoma116229
Marshall111117
Lincoln110453
Holmes109859
Grenada109536
Yazoo106230
Simpson104746
Tate100638
Union99824
Leake96138
Adams94237
Wayne90521
Pearl River89453
Marion86835
Prentiss86317
Itawamba83121
Covington82723
Alcorn82311
George78213
Tallahatchie77421
Newton77324
Winston74219
Tishomingo69138
Chickasaw68524
Tippah67217
Attala67025
Clarke60346
Walthall60226
Clay59618
Hancock58822
Jasper57715
Noxubee55116
Smith53615
Calhoun52212
Tunica49715
Claiborne46516
Montgomery46520
Yalobusha43614
Lawrence43313
Perry42419
Greene38717
Humphreys37815
Quitman3775
Stone37512
Jefferson Davis34211
Webster33813
Amite33210
Carroll32012
Wilkinson30518
Kemper29015
Sharkey26613
Jefferson2439
Benton2283
Franklin1933
Choctaw1866
Issaquena1053
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 136055

Reported Deaths: 2364
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19752350
Mobile13449292
Montgomery8852184
Tuscaloosa8654118
Madison792778
Shelby601349
Lee592760
Baldwin552650
Marshall396143
Calhoun353444
Etowah352145
Morgan331428
Houston292021
Elmore267348
DeKalb243221
St. Clair233036
Walker231984
Talladega217129
Limestone211920
Cullman190720
Dallas179126
Franklin178129
Autauga177325
Russell17633
Lauderdale172333
Colbert166626
Blount161715
Escambia161124
Chilton158830
Jackson158111
Covington140327
Dale139244
Coffee13596
Pike120510
Chambers116842
Tallapoosa116485
Clarke110016
Marion96829
Butler91339
Barbour8857
Winston74512
Marengo72420
Pickens66614
Bibb65610
Lowndes65427
Randolph65413
Hale64428
Geneva6344
Lawrence62123
Cherokee61213
Bullock60614
Monroe5908
Clay5878
Washington55913
Perry5416
Crenshaw54032
Conecuh53611
Wilcox53211
Henry5075
Macon48318
Fayette4628
Sumter43819
Cleburne3825
Lamar3702
Choctaw35112
Greene30315
Coosa1723
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