Mississippi: State Sued for Position of Senate Race on Ballot

Posted September 9, 2008 at 6:07pm

A county election commissioner filed a lawsuit Tuesday in state court to have the state’s special Senate race between former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R) moved to the top of the November ballot, right underneath the presidential election.

A sample ballot presented by Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann (R) and approved by Gov. Haley Barbour (R) places the Senate race below all local races near the bottom of the ballot.

Traditionally the presidential election is at the top of the ballot, followed by other federal races. The state’s regular Senate race, which Republicans are expected to win easily in November, is right underneath the White House election on the ballot.

Pike County Election Commissioner Trudy Berger asserts in her suit that burying the special Senate election at the bottom of the ballot will cause confusion among voters and will result in a significant undervote.

Democrats are particularly upset because they believe that drop-off in votes will most likely affect Democratic-leaning voters, especially low-income and minority voters.

Musgrove’s campaign released a statement Tuesday calling the sample ballot “unlawful” and cited state Attorney General Jim Hood’s (D) interpretation of state law, which would require the federal race to be placed at the top of the ballot.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, Hosemann defended his decision on the special election’s ballot position.

“We believe Mississippi voters are capable to read through the entire ballot,” Hosemann said. “To suggest otherwise disrespects the voter. The People of the State of Mississippi will determine the results of this election as they have every other election.”