Mississippi Court Orders Senate Race Higher on Ballot

Posted September 18, 2008 at 4:29pm

Mississippi’s Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that general election ballots must be revised so that the Senate special election between appointed Sen. Roger Wicker (R) and former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove (D) will appear near the top of the ballot rather than near the bottom.

The decision is a victory for state Democrats who were concerned that the original ballot design would have caused an undervote that would have hurt Musgrove more than Wicker in the special election race.

The ballot battle began last week when Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and Gov. Haley Barbour (R) presented a November ballot that placed the special election contest near the bottom of the ballot, below all general election races.

That ballot was immediately challenged by a Democratic state election commissioner because she said the ballot would cause confusion among voters and result in a significant undervote.

Democrats believed that the drop-off in votes would most likely affect Democratic-leaning voters, especially low-income and minority voters.

The election commissioner’s objection was upheld on Friday by a Mississippi Circuit Court judge, but Hosemann and Barbour appealed that decision to the state Supreme Court.

Barbour released a brief statement Thursday after the decision.

“The Supreme Court has spoken; so be it,” Barbour said.