House bill to affect election workers
by Paisley Boston
Apr 01, 2014 | 420 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Upcoming elections are going to be conducted a little differently thanks to House Bill 874.

This bill prohibits any person who has been convicted of any felony in the state of Mississippi or any other state from serving on any municipal executive committees, county executive committees or state executive committees.

The bill also prohibits any person who has been convicted of any state or federal election crime in this state in any other state from serving on any municipal executive committee, county executive committee and for related purposes.

Sen. Willie Simmons said he strongly disagrees with the bill.

"It was a bill that I opposed because it originally applied to the election commissioners," said Simmons.

"It basically restricts individuals from being able to serve if they have a felony. It does not address individuals who may have had their voting rights restored by the legislative body. These individuals will not be able to serve on election commissions. I did not think that this was appropriate," he added.

Simmons said the bill fails to address individuals who may be currently serving on committees.

"Some of these individuals work of the secretary of state office or are involved with the election process. It primarily affects the local democratic committee or republican committee. The bill singles out the election commission," he continued.

According to the bill any person who violates this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction, shall be punished and removed from the committee.

The bill is set to take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2014.

"The bill addresses one element of the election process and it goes after one section of the population who would be involved in managing and operating the election commission," said Simmons.

"I was against it entirely and I think it is being done just to get at one aspect of the whole election process and that would be the commissioners," he added.

"If a law is going to be enforced, there has to be some way that the group who is responsible for certifying will be allowed to cypher through background checks of individuals who wish to serve," he continued.

According to the Mississippi Department of Health criminal records are only available to certified agencies, including law enforcement, government agencies and businesses, which require background checks prior to hiring.

These businesses include hospitals, home health agencies, long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities and hospices.

Mississippi criminal record checks are performed by submitting an individual’s fingerprints.

MDH mails packets of fingerprint cards that each contains a unique identification number.

It costs $50 for a background check, but if the fingerprints are returned, an additional fee of $50 will be charged.

Simmons said although the bill was approved, there is not a section in the bill that outlines or list appropriations for the background check fees.

"The background check will be a local issue, there was no money in the bill to address who is paying for the background checks," said Simmons.