‘We can do better’: Sen. Hyde-Smith’s Sunday voting comments spark controversy

Updated: Mar. 25, 2021 at 7:12 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - As Congress weighs election reforms that could impact the country, one Mississippi Senator’s comments are making headlines.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had raised concerns about Georgia Republicans’ attempts to end early voting on Sundays. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s comments have kicked up a lot of dust.

Unlike Mississippi, Georgia has early voting and the Sunday option is often used by black churchgoers for Souls to the Polls events. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith made it a point to defend recent attempts to do away with Sunday voting.

“I cannot speak for Georgia but I can speak for Mississippi on why we would never do that on a Sunday or hold an election on a Sunday,” said Hyde-Smith Wednesday. “You know, this is our currency. This is a dollar bill. This says the United States of America, In God We Trust.”

Hyde-Smith continued with examples... ending with this statement.

“In God’s word, in Exodus 20:18, it says, ‘Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.’ So that is my response to Senator Schumer,” added Hyde-Smith.

The video of those comments was quickly shared to social media with folks from all over weighing in, with many pointing out that the actual Bible verse the senator meant to quote was Exodus 20:8.

Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Tyree Irving said it was ridiculous.

“It makes us look like the laughingstock of the country, that is this the best that you can do Mississippi? And I know we can do better,” said Irving. “I would’ve expected it to go viral, quite frankly.”

Irving made this observation.

“We play ball on Sunday,” Irving explained. “We do a lot of stuff on Sundays. And, actually, some of these great Christians, I suspect, go and gamble on Sunday. And here is our democracy. We’re talking about simply trying to put some laws in place so America can continue to be that shiny city sitting on a hill.”

The organization One Voice says election reforms are needed since states like Mississippi aren’t taking action at a state level.

“We’re seeing a lot of voter suppression tactics bubble back up since the gutting of the Voting Rights Act and I think HR 1 gives us that federal push that we need,” said One Voice Executive Director Nsombi Lambright-Haynes.

Hyde-Smith was unavailable for an interview Thursday. Both she and Senator Roger Wicker have expressed concern that the proposed reform would eliminate Mississippi’s voter ID requirement and say they’ll continue to push back on the proposal.

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