Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Secretary Michael Watson Explains SEMS Voter Registration Error

Earlier today, our office issued a voter registration alert regarding a calendar selection error in the Statewide Election Management System (SEMS). Transparency is a primary pillar of election integrity, which is why I believe it is essential to provide Mississippi voters with further context as to how that error occurred.

After the Primary Election was certified by the appropriate Statewide Executive Committees, the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office began preparing for the primary runoff elections in the SEMS. When this task is performed, SEMS automatically sets the registration deadline in accordance with state law. In this case, the automatic selection set the voter registration deadline as May 30, 2022, which fell on the Memorial Day holiday.

According to Mississippi Election Code, when the voter registration deadline falls on a Sunday or holiday, the voter registration deadline should be moved to the following business day, which would have been May 31, 2022. Unfortunately, our office inadvertently missed correcting the date in SEMS and did not become aware of the error until a Circuit Clerk reported it this afternoon.

Due to the oversight, voters who have an effective voter registration date of May 31, 2022, would not appear in the pollbook at their precinct. This includes anyone who registered in person, postmarked a mail-in registration application, or registered in any other acceptable way on May 31, 2022.

Our records show this affected 187 voters: 45 in Congressional District 2, 68 in Congressional District 3, and 74 in Congressional District 4. Affected voters were instructed to cast an affidavit ballot at their polling place. Local election officials will review affidavit ballots and accept all with an effective voter registration date on or before May 31, 2022. While those impacted were still allowed to vote, the experience was not quite the same, and for that, we sincerely apologize.

This is the first time this problem has occurred, and our team already has logistics in place to prevent this issue from occurring in the future. Voter confidence is of the utmost importance to me, and we will continue to work hard to remain the primary resource for trusted election information in Mississippi.

Watson Signature
Secretary of State
State of Mississippi

For questions regarding Republican Primary Runoff Election Day, or to report an elections issue, please contact our Elections Division:  

Hotline: 1-800-829-6786