Mississippi election official made a damning comment about Black voters
The George Floyd protests have had such an impact that in deep red Mississippi, state legislators voted to remove the Confederate emblem from the state’s flag. But concerns over racism in Mississippi politics continued to assert themselves on Sunday when Gail Harrison Welch, a state election commissioner, posted a revealing comment on social media.
“I’m concerned about voter registration in Mississippi," she wrote on Facebook. "The blacks are having lots [of] events for voter registration. People in Mississippi have to get involved, too.”
Lici Beveridge, a reporter for the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, reports that Welch’s comment “sparked outrage” in the state when screenshots of it “spread quickly” on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Mississippi State Sen. Juan Barnett, an African-American Democrat, said of Welch, “I don’t know if she is racist or not. But it’s the…. undertone and stuff of what people say that gives the illusion that that’s what you are, based on what was said.”
Facebook user Jason McCarty asserted that Welch “needs to be removed! I have (pledged) to denounce racism anytime I see it! And her ‘blacks are having’ comment is RACIST!”
Another Facebook user, Sonja V. McCaskill, urged Mississippi residents to “please vote this lady out.”
Welch, however, has defended her post, stressing that she didn’t have racist motivations. The Clarion Ledger quotes her as saying, “I have worked hard to make sure everybody is registered to vote: black or white, everybody. That's just how I am."
Nonetheless, Barnett warns that Welch’s comment raises questions about the fairness of the election process in Mississippi.
“With people saying that kind of stuff,” Barnett explained, “it makes them question: if this person is over the election, are they really going to run this? 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.”