Bowles: Reeves’ tweets an attack on democracy  


United States Coast Guard Atlantic Area, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

After President Trump criticized mail-in voting during this election, Tate Reeves (left) showed his support by tweeting he would never allow early voting in Mississippi while he is Governor.

Luke Bowles, Managing Editor

By opposing early and mail-in voting, Tate Reeves is actively contributing to voter suppression. His stances on voting are a threat to our democracy, but unfortunately, I’m not surprised considering these comments are coming from a man who is supposed to represent a state with a historic legacy of voter suppression and white supremacy. 

On Nov. 5, 2020, Reeves tweeted, saying, “Based on what I see in other states today, I will also do everything in my power to make sure universal mail-in voting and no-excuse early voting are not allowed in MS—not while I’m governor! Too much chaos.”

The real “chaos” in the Mississippi elections were the three hour wait times many voters experienced in larger counties like Hinds and DeSoto. I wonder how long wait times could be avoided. Maybe a system where people could mail in votes or not be forced to vote on the same day would work. 

Poverty is also extremely relevant to this issue. Why? Well, several groups are more likely to be impoverished than the average citizen, including African-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics and women. All four groups heavily favored Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

But why does this matter? Mississippi has one of the highest poverty rates in the country at 20.8%. Impoverished people are most likely to work minimum wage service jobs, and many cannot afford to take time off in fear of losing wages. A day of work matters a lot more to someone who makes twenty thousand compared to someone who makes six figures.

So guess who is impacted most by restrictions on early voting? All the groups more likely to favor Democrats. What a coincidence a Republican governor supports the restrictions. 

Mississippi only allows for excused absentee voting and does not allow early voting whatsoever. Not only do citizens have to call and request a mail-in ballot, it also has to be notarized. Absentee ballots have to be requested at least 14 days before the election. 

This process is not simple and might also pose a challenge to many first-time and younger voters. I wonder what party they favored in 2016. You’d never guess.

Thirty-eight states and D.C. allow for no-excuse early voting. Five other states allow for all mail-in voting. So why not allow the same in Mississippi? Many other states, including our neighbors Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee allow for early voting, and when was the last time you heard about “chaos” there?

Many Twitter users also made valid points when criticizing Reeves’ comments.

One user, Allen Coon, stated, “What is chaotic in permitting no-excuse early voting? It requires compliance w/ same voter registration & ID laws as a vote cast on Election Day, supervised by election worker too; will provide lower waits to cast ballots, greater flexibility for the working class of Mississippi!”

Many users also responded to the commonly cited reason for restricting early-voting that it takes too long to count them.

User James Lorentz stated, “Most states seem to have handled them just fine. Just count them upon arrival instead of waiting until election day. There are ways to make it work.”

User Andrew Bartolotta stated, “Several family members including myself waited over 3 hours in line. We need early voting access and to start counting those votes immediately. Why suppress access to our democracy?”

I couldn’t agree with these sentiments more. Restricting mail-in and early voting is not only an obvious attack on democracy but also a deceitful modern-day form of voter suppression disguised as avoiding non-existent election fraud. Tate Reeves should be ashamed of himself.