In Mississippi, an election commissioner is in hot water over a social media post referring to “the Blacks” in a Facebook post that was in response to the decision to discontinue the state’s use of the Confederate flag and its emblem and the number of African Americans engaged in voting.
Republican elections commissioner Gail Welch, posted her concern saying, “I’m concerned about voter registration in Mississippi. The blacks are having lots (of) events for voter registration. People in Mississippi have to get involved, too,” according to the Clarion Ledger.
The Clarion Ledger reports screenshots spread through social media channels and Welch has received calls from all over the country regarding her comment.
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“I don’t know if she is racist or not. But it’s the just undertone and stuff of what people say that gives the illusion that that’s what you are, based on what was said,” said Missississippi State Senator Juan Barnett, who also explained how her remarks undermine the integrity of her position.
“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,” said Barnett.
Welch has responded to the accusations of racism saying that she issued the reply in error, believing it to be a private message thread and not a public comment. She claims her intent was a call-to-action for more white people to hold voter registration events.
“We’ve always in the past had whites really participating in registering to vote. So many people don’t seem to be concerned about (voting),” says Welch as reported by the Clarion Ledger.
Welch also told WDAM-TV: “This was a big mistake. I realize I could have worded things a little better. This was based on my frustration over the past few years over low voter turnout. I’m just trying to get everybody involved in registering to vote. If everybody were as passionate as the Black community about registering people, you know, that would be great.”
Despite support from friends jumping to her defense, and her asserting a non-racist stance, residents of Jones County are now calling for Welch’s removal. Welch has served as election commissioner for 20 years.
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