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Mississippi SOS asks for Attorney General's help following masking issue in Greenwood

Tuesday, November 3, 2020, 5:45 pm News Flash Archive

The Mississippi Secretary of State's office requested that Attorney General Lynn Fitch contact Greenwood prosecutor Charles Swayze III after reports he intended to prosecute any charges that might be filed against voters who entered the polling locations without masks.

Ms. Hawley Robertson, Assistant Secretary of State, Elections Division, informed The Taxpayers Channel that her office had "notified the Attorney General's Office" about the masking issue, and that the AG's office had assured her that it would "reach out" to the city prosecutor.

Last evening, Secretary of State Michael Watson confirmed, in a Facebook comment posted on The Taxpayers Channel article, that he had in fact turned the matter over to Attorney General Lynn Fitch, asking her to contact the city prosecutor.

It is not known whether the contact has taken place, or whether the AG was able to secure any agreement that voters will not be prosecuted as had been suggested. As of 5:30 pm today, no public assurances have been issued as to the safety from prosecution of unmasked Greenwood citizens who vote today.

While the city police will not be enforcing the ordinance, according to Mayor McAdams, it is still a crime in Greenwood for voters to appear at the precincts without wearing a mask, even if the person has a moral or ethical objection to wearing one.

Swayze told The Taxpayers Channel Tuesday afternoon that if charges were filed against a voter, his office would criminally prosecute the accused in city court.

Any citizen who observes a masking violation can file criminal charges against that person, and Swayze's office will press those criminal charges, according to Swayze.

To see our coverage of this matter, see here: Greenwood City Prosecutor will prosecute masking ordinance complaints at voting precincts tomorrow

To complicate matters further, this morning's Greenwood Commonwealth reported that the Circuit Clerk Elmus Stockstill, and Election Commission chairman Preston Ratliff told reporter Gerard Edic that "masks will be required at voting precincts in compliance with mask mandates."

That decision violates the clear directives from the Secretary of State's office, that voters may not be required to wear masks in order to cast their vote today.

But at some polling precincts, signs stated that masks were merely suggested or recommended. The Taxpayers Channel has not heard of any reported incidents where voters were turned away, or where the decision by the county's election officials to illegally restrict voting was actually carried out.

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

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