An election commissioner in Mississippi has made the news last week amid a report stating that she was having concerns because “The blacks are having lots (of) events for voter registration,” according to The Clarion-Ledger.
Jason McCarty, who, according to his Facebook page, is a Public Health Care Advocate, had posted a screenshot of a message that revealed a quote by Jones County’s Gail Harrison Welch, who is the election commissioner. “I’m concerned about voter registration in Mississippi,” Welch wrote on Facebook. “The blacks are having lots [of] events for voter registration. People in Mississippi have to get involved, too.”
“It’s those kinds of things that people say until somebody brings it to their attention and then it’s not what they said or it’s not what they meant,” said Sen. Juan Barnett, whose district includes part of Jones County.
“I don’t know if she is racist or not. But it’s the just undertone and stuff of what people say that gives the illusion that that’s what you are, based on what was said.”
Welch, who has been in the position of Beat 1 commissioner for 20 years, said that her comment, although appearing racist, wasn’t her intent.
“We’ve always in the past had whites really participating in registering to vote. So many people don’t seem to be concerned about (voting).”
She also stated that she thought she was conducting a private message. “This was an error on my part,” she stated.
“I was just trying to strike a match under people and get them to vote — to get everybody to vote,” she said. “This was not intended to be anything.”
Barnett had stated now the integrity of the Jones County election commission has been put into question because of Welch’s comments.
“With people saying that kind of stuff, it makes them question, if this person is over the election, are they really going to run this?” Barnett said. “Are they really going to do what they say they’re going to do? It puts that office that you’re holding … now there’s some credibility issues with that office. Not necessarily with you, but in that office.”
Welch admits she could have worded her comment better.
“A lot of my friends have jumped to my defense, which I really appreciate,” she said. “I don’t like this kind of stuff. I don’t mean anything by it.
“I have worked hard to make sure everybody is registered to vote — Black or white, everybody — that’s just how I am.”