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Limiting Polling-Place Changes, Criminalizing Harmful AI: #MSLeg Roundup

Voters had no warning in August 2023 when Hinds County election officials moved two polling precincts just hours before residents were set to cast ballots in the party primaries, citing accessibility issues at the old location.

A new effort in the Mississippi House could prevent such last-minute polling-place changes. Election officials could not close voting precincts within 60 days of an election under House Bill 1156.

“You would think that that would be something that they would do by themselves, but apparently not everybody is following what seems to be common sense to me,” Rep. Noah Sanford, R-Collins, said when introducing the bill on the House floor on March 6.

Rep. Noah Sanford, R-Collins, said on the Mississippi House floor on March 6, 2024, that closing polling places soon before an election could make it “difficult for news to get out” about the change. Photo courtesy Mississippi Legislature

If authorities find that a polling place is closed during that time period, the establishment’s supervisor must provide a valid excuse, like a natural disaster, at the next meeting with officials under the bill. It says election officials must notify citizens if a precinct will be closed within 60 days of an election by posting announcements at the polling place, city hall, the courthouse, the registrar’s office and by placing ads for three weeks in the local newspaper.

Sanford said H.B. 1156 would hopefully prevent people from going to the wrong polling place on Election Day.

“If a polling place is closed a month before the election, it may be difficult for news to get out of that, and you have people going to the wrong place on Election Day to vote,” he said. “And if they’re like me, they don’t have a lot of time, so if they go to the wrong place, they may not go to the right place and just not vote.”

The House unanimously passed H.B. 1156 on March 6. It heads to the Senate. If the Senate passes the bill without amendments, it goes to Gov. Tate Reeves’ desk.

Banning AI Images Created ‘To Cause Harm’

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