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Secretary of state nominees differ on expanding early voting

MGN Online

Michael Watson and Johnny DuPree have different ideas about early voting in Mississippi.

Posted: Oct 21, 2019 4:59 PM
Updated: Nov 13, 2019 1:33 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Two candidates for secretary of state said Monday that they have different ideas about whether Mississippi should change its laws to expand early voting.

Under current Mississippi law, absentee voting is limited to people who have a temporary or permanent disability, are at least 65 years old or will be out of town on Election Day.

The Republican nominee, state Sen. Michael Watson, said he sees no need to change the system.

"I think our system, as is, is working," Watson said. "Obviously, lots of excuses that you can use — work, or out of town and a few other things that you can kind of talk about. Again, we give them 45 days to get in there. In my opinion, it's easy enough as it is."

The Democratic nominee, former Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree, said he supports the expansion of early voting to get more people involved in the election process.

"You have a fundamental right to vote, and why do I have to give an excuse to vote?" DuPree said. "That's like, why do I have to give an excuse to breathe? I believe that we should have no-excuse early voting."

Thirty-nine states allow people to vote early without having to provide an excuse such as being out of town on election day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The two candidates spoke Monday in Jackson at a forum sponsored by Mississippi State University's Stennis Institute of Government and the Capitol Press Corps. Both said they support efforts to educate people about voting.

The election is Nov. 5.

DuPree and Watson are competing to succeed third-term Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican who faces Democratic state Rep. Jay Hughes in the open race for lieutenant governor.

The secretary of state serves with the governor and attorney general on the state election commission.

Candidates file campaign finance reports and businesses file documents of incorporation at the secretary of state's office. The office also regulates charities and securities, and it oversees public land leases, which generate money for schools.

DuPree, 65, is a real estate broker and served 16 years as Hattiesburg mayor. He was previously a Forrest County supervisor and Hattiesburg school board member. He was also the Democratic nominee for governor in 2011, falling to Republican Phil Bryant in the general election.

Watson, 41, of Pascagoula, is an attorney who has served three terms as a state senator in a district that's entirely in coastal Jackson County.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 27900

Reported Deaths: 1082
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds215239
DeSoto137316
Madison122234
Jones106949
Neshoba96069
Lauderdale88278
Rankin84112
Forrest81442
Scott75015
Harrison7448
Copiah56615
Leake54819
Jackson53316
Holmes52741
Wayne52112
Washington4969
Lee49316
Oktibbeha48624
Yazoo4736
Leflore47249
Lowndes45311
Warren44317
Lincoln43534
Lamar4197
Grenada3805
Monroe36729
Pike36712
Attala35223
Lafayette3524
Newton3289
Sunflower3066
Covington3025
Bolivar27713
Panola2706
Adams26718
Chickasaw25918
Tate2577
Jasper2506
Marion24811
Pontotoc2476
Noxubee2458
Pearl River24432
Winston2435
Clay24210
Claiborne23610
Simpson2303
Smith20611
Clarke20124
Marshall2013
Coahoma1866
Kemper17614
Union1759
Walthall1724
Yalobusha1617
Carroll16011
Lawrence1591
Itawamba1278
Calhoun1244
Humphreys1239
Tippah12311
Webster12310
Montgomery1222
Hancock12013
Jefferson Davis1064
Tallahatchie1043
Prentiss983
Greene927
Jefferson923
Wilkinson919
Tunica893
Amite822
George743
Choctaw714
Quitman680
Tishomingo681
Perry614
Alcorn561
Stone521
Franklin382
Benton270
Sharkey240
Issaquena71
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 38442

Reported Deaths: 947
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4387142
Montgomery383999
Mobile3697134
Tuscaloosa204938
Marshall153710
Lee118937
Shelby108223
Madison10577
Morgan9813
Walker86723
Franklin85213
Dallas8198
Elmore81314
Baldwin6869
Etowah62513
Butler60427
DeKalb6025
Chambers58127
Tallapoosa56369
Autauga54511
Unassigned52025
Russell4840
Lowndes45820
Lauderdale4446
Houston4344
Limestone4090
Cullman4003
Pike3995
Colbert3685
Bullock3629
Coffee3532
Barbour3231
Covington3087
St. Clair3042
Hale29321
Marengo28611
Wilcox2808
Sumter27612
Calhoun2705
Talladega2677
Clarke2665
Escambia2636
Dale2440
Jackson2382
Winston2333
Blount2141
Chilton2112
Pickens2116
Marion20312
Monroe1972
Choctaw19212
Conecuh1804
Bibb1711
Macon1708
Randolph1709
Greene1667
Perry1451
Henry1303
Crenshaw1233
Lawrence1010
Washington1007
Cherokee747
Lamar711
Fayette671
Geneva670
Clay582
Coosa551
Cleburne291
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