In recent weeks our newsroom has investigated and reported on cases of questionable voter eligibility. Our team has been careful to point out there have been no arrests or official allegations of illegal activity.
We contacted the office of Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman to determine if there are problems with the voter rolls, and while there are counties in Mississippi where the registered voter count is higher than the eligible population, the secretary of state's office says Forrest County is not one of them.
We also learned that the responsibility of purging the voter rolls belongs to the county election commissioners and that cities around the state receive voter roll information from the county.
So where is the issue? How is it that some have been able to vote without residing in Hattiesburg? The issue appears to be the ambiguity in what constitutes a person's primary residence for voting in elections. A 1996 Mississippi Supreme Court ruling states that "a homestead exemption filing creates a strong but rebuttable presumption that the property on which the homestead exemption is claimed is one's residence for election purposes".
In our opinion this is too vague. We urge the legislature and the attorney general's office to create a clear distinction as to what constitutes primary residency status for voting purposes.