Mississippi Elections Commissioner Accused of Racism After Complaining 'the Blacks' Are Having Voter Registration Events
It's been a historic week for Mississippi.
The State's congress voted to remove the state flag—whose upper left hand corner featured the Confederate battle flag—after decades of opposition since its adoption in 1894. In September, Mississippians will vote on a new design.
While the move gave many a cause for celebration, it didn't stop the attitude that allowed the flag in the first place from rearing the ugly head.
That was more than evident in a recent Facebook comment from Gail Welch, a Mississippi Elections Commissioner.
Welch expressed concern that "the blacks" were having too many voter registration events.
Mississippi has the highest percentage of Black Americans in the country at nearly 40% of its population, but due to centuries of unjust voting laws and jurisdictions, the Black vote is largely suppressed, thus necessitating massive outreach for voter registration.
Attitudes like Welch's, especially when helping oversee elections, is a large part of that problem.
State Senator Juan Barnett—who oversees Jones County—said of the post:
"With people saying that kind of stuff, 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."
For her part, Welsh said:
"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]. This was an error on my part."
Welch's distinction between "the blacks" and "people in Mississippi" said a mouthful.
Gail Welch is an elected official in Jones County Mississippi. She’s supposed to be nonpartisan... and not racist?… https://t.co/TrwNcTWTbR— Olivia Rondeau (@Olivia Rondeau)1593715376.0
Her name is Gail Harrison Welch. And she doesn’t believe “the black” are part of “people in Mississippi.” https://t.co/5mcoiq8ZSA— Cory Smith (@Cory Smith)1593721804.0
@markmobility The Venn diagram has two circles: "the blacks" and "people" and there is no overlap. Yikes.— Ward Q. Normal (@Ward Q. Normal)1593717596.0
@markmobility Too? As in also “people” in Mississippi have to get involved because “the blacks are having lots of e… https://t.co/vIAUMppveW— Kathy Russell #resist (@Kathy Russell #resist)1593717542.0
@markmobility "The blacks" vs "People in Mississippi" I'll take outright racism and voter suppression for $200, Alex.— Patty (@Patty)1593720769.0
People are demanding her resignation.
@markmobility She needs to resign.— MoreSkyPlease (@MoreSkyPlease)1593726201.0
Has Gail Welch, racist Election Commissioner for Jones County, Mississippi, resigned yet? https://t.co/IBfdsu4d0m— Phi ⚛️ (@Phi ⚛️)1593724700.0
“The Blacks”? SHAME on Gail Harrison Welch. She’s a two-bit, racist scum who needs to be a “former” election co… https://t.co/GgkIAF3Z0e— Julius Wolfman (@Julius Wolfman)1593619125.0
Jones County election commissioner facing backlash for comment on social media Gail Welch, you are an idiot.… https://t.co/cQG0IxFsho— Adam Singer (@Adam Singer)1593723129.0
At the 2000 census, Jones County was 30% Black.