November 9, 2023
‘Mississippi Did Not Go Well’: 5 Losses That Stemmed From The Midterm Election
No matter how you slice it, Black voters were failed by the election results even after they were mobilized for the first time in years by hope that, this time around, things might turn out differently.
Mississippi was forecast as a battleground state ahead of the 2023 midterm elections, below are five losses that the state or individuals took due to the results of the race.
- Brandon Presley, a cousin of Elvis Presley, lost to Tate Reeves, a Trump-supported GOP candidate and incumbent governor. Reeves centered his campaign on the fact that he was a Republican and Presley was a Democrat, frequently linking Presley with Joe Biden and Barack Obama. This was enough for the state Republicans to hold their noses and vote for Reeves, despite his unpopularity. Presley, though not quite as progressive as some Mississippians would have liked, made sure to engage with the state’s Black voters. Reeves, who was regarded before the election as one of the country’s least popular governors, won almost 52% of the popular vote, which was enough to avoid a runoff election. According to CNN, in his concession speech, Presley remained hopeful that the momentum he created could be used in the future. “We didn’t win it, they did. But we won the hearts and souls of hundreds of thousands of Mississippians,” Presley said. “Unfortunately, it looks like we came up a little short and I spoke with Governor Reeves just a minute ago. We congratulated him on his victory.”
- Attorney General Lynn Fitch, who is at least partially responsible for making sure that Roe v Wade was overturned, won re-election. Fitch is on record demanding information about Mississippi residents who got abortion procedures in other states. Her opponent, Greta Kemp Martin, was motivated to run principally because of Fitch’s role in getting Roe overturned. Martin kept her focus on access to abortion, and also indicated that if elected, she would seek to have Mississippi native and football great Brett Favre and former Mississippi governor Phil Bryant indicted for their roles in the state’s welfare scandal. Part of what led to Martin’s political demise was a lack of outside funding, as a Democratic political operative told Mississippi Today, “I don’t know how in the world national Democrats can look at the success that abortion access has had in other states and think we can look over a candidate like Greta,” they said. “That’s political malpractice.”
- Efforts to fight voter suppression took an L, as Mississippi is one of the few states that does not allow early voting. Early voting allows voters to vote typically 1-2 weeks ahead of Election Day. Reports from Mississippi voters and journalists alleged that locations in the state began running out of ballots, while politicians like Brandon Presley urged voters to remain in line until they had cast their votes. According to the Washington Post, a Mississippi county judge issued an emergency order allowing polls to remain open for an extra hour after nine precincts reported a lack of ballots.
- Is it 2023 or 1963? Jackson’s NAACP chapter alleged that a police checkpoint that just so happened to be near a polling place at Jackson State University, amounting to voter suppression and intimidation. According to WAPT, the state police set up a checkpoint, including police vehicles and roadblocks, right next to the state’s largest polling place. Jackson NAACP President Nsombi Lambright told NewsOne it was “a very suspicious form of voter intimidation” and that it creates “lot of questions about what the purpose of this checkpoint today was.” Mississippi NAACP Executive Director Charles Taylor said officers “were checking both license plates and licenses of individuals passing by right next to the largest voting precinct in the state of Mississippi.” Jackson State University responded via its Department of Public Safety Chief Herman Horton, who said, “The (JSU) Department of Public Safety has many agency partners that help us keep the campus community safe. While we can appreciate these efforts, we did not request the specific implementation of a checkpoint (Monday),” Horton said. “As a result, we will continue to encourage collaboration and dialogue to ensure our actions are aligned and maintain the public’s trust and the integrity of our public safety department.”
- Black voters in Mississippi. No matter how you slice it, Black voters were failed by the election results even after they were mobilized for the first time in years by hope that this time around, things might turn out differently. They, however, should be commended for fighting through voter suppression. Black voters should not have to suffer through disorganization, military style checkpoints outside of its polling places, an attorney general who does not believe in access to abortion, or a governor who refuses to expand Medicare coverage in one of the poorest and Blackest states in America. Yet they do, they will, and they have. On top of these problems, there was chaos as voters tried to make their way to their assigned voting precincts. According to the Mississippi Free Press, Mississippi’s state election system did not have the correct information for 92 of its precincts, which the state’s online polling place locator uses to direct voters. It is a wonder that Mississippi’s Black voters got some of its map to turn blue, a map Mississippi writer Kiese Laymon posted to his Twitter account along with a message that anti-Black Mississippian sentiment would not be tolerated.
As in many former Confederate states, Black Mississippians have to contend with being trapped in a voter suppression state; these are not simply red states by virtue of political persuasion. Some other Twitter/X users have called for a federal intervention due to the myriad of issues faced by Black Mississippians during this election. Others called attention to the fact that what happened in the state establishes that Black people cannot afford a political climate where the rules of engagement are created by far-right or MAGA Republicans.