- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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July 7

The Oxford Eagle on renaming an Ole Miss building:

The renaming of Vardaman Hall by Ole Miss is a good move.

Named after former Mississippi Governor James K. Vardaman (1904-1908) who also served in the U.S. Senate, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on History and Context recommended renaming the building because Vardaman was an outspoken advocate for white supremacy.

History speaks for itself since Vardaman once suggested that if it was necessary to save Mississippi by lynching every black resident of the state, it should be done.

Such revelations make merely adding a contextualizing plaque for Vardman Hall insufficient. Renaming is a better option, even if it does anger those who believe the university is altering history with the move.

Names of buildings are known to change in time, anyway. Vardaman Hall will undergo a substantial renovation soon, making the name change a more natural occurrence.

Opponents of the move should note that the university is notably working to keep history in place by adding contextualization plaques to other buildings on campus, including Lamar Hall, Barnard Observatory, Longstreet Hall and George Hall.

The University is commended for its transparent process during the advisory committee’s work, ultimately resulting in this valuable contextualization and the renaming of Vardaman Hall.

Online: http://www.oxfordeagle.com/

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July 9

The Greenwood Commonwealth on the release of state voter data:

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann recently said he wouldn’t give information about the Magnolia State’s voters to President Donald Trump’s new Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity.

But, it turns out, he has been giving that same information to another purported watchdog, the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, for years. It’s not that much different than Trump’s commission, which has been criticized for trying to solve a voter fraud problem that is difficult to prove.

Both are run by the same person, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Hosemann, like Trump a Republican, wasn’t alone in bipartisan bristling from secretaries of state from across the nation in refusing the Trump administration’s request.

Hosemann became a bit of a media sensation when he said he’d tell members of Trump’s commission to go “jump in the Gulf of Mexico” if they asked for the information.

Secretaries of state defended their rejections, saying public records laws don’t allow for names, birthdates, voting history and the last four digits of Social Security numbers to be released. Some called the request a scheme to disenfranchise voters, particularly minorities.

Hosemann and officials in other states seemed upset that the federal government doesn’t trust them well enough to run their own elections. But Hosemann has been providing voter information to the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program since 2009.

He said he trusts the program, which has 28 participating states, because it “is subject to strict security standards, including encryption and permanent deletion” and the feds’ request came with no such guarantees.

But that’s not why he should refuse to participate in this snipe hunt. The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program has been criticized for its poor methodology and its likelihood to kick legal voters off the rolls. It could erroneously invalidate legitimate voters with common names by ignoring Social Security numbers and middle initials. And when common first names are coupled with common surnames such as Washington or Hernandez, they’re more likely to ultimately disenfranchise minorities.

Make no mistake. Voter rolls do need to be updated to account for people who have moved away or died. But the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program’s own numbers hardly make its case for effectiveness. It claims to review millions of records each year and yet finds few instances of fraud. Only four individuals were indicted for voting in Colorado and Arizona in first year of those states’ participation, according to the program’s website.

Purging voters rolls is a divisive subject - it’s either a well-intentioned task to clean up records bogged down by former residents and the deceased, or it’s an attempt to keep people from having a voice at the polls.

When it comes to manipulating elections, we can look all we want to at Russian hacking, but there’s plenty of it going on here, too. It happens when district lines are redrawn to protect incumbents. It happens - albeit rarely - when people misrepresent themselves at the polls. And it happens when people lose faith in the elections system because they think their government is trying to take their vote.

Trump’s commission only amplifies that distrust. This isn’t some nonpartisan mission of integrity. It’s a party-driven gut punch for the other guy, and that’s not right, no matter how you lean politically.

And if Kobach gets his way, then something then-candidate Trump said is true: The system is rigged.

Online: http://www.gwcommonwealth.com/

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July 12

The Commercial Dispatch on the crash of a military transport plane:

The crash of a military transport plane that claimed the lives of 16 servicemen in Leflore County on Tuesday is a tragic reminder not only of the sacrifice our military is called to make, but that what we often take for granted represents a genuine risk.

As is often the case, when word of the crash began to circulate, our first thoughts turned immediately to Columbus Air Force Base, which has been training pilots for more than 75 years now.

Although the crash was not related to CAFB - the transport plane was carrying personnel and equipment from North Carolina to a training site in the western U.S. - we naturally find a lump in our throats whenever there is news of such a crash, especially if it occurs in Mississippi.

Every day, young pilots in training fly over our community and we have grown so accustomed to the sight that we seldom, if ever, consider the prospects for tragedy.

Our comfort is an outgrowth of CAFB’s impressive safety record. It is a reflection of the talented young men and women who train here, the expertise of their trainers and the dedication to maintaining the aircraft in meticulous condition.

If this training is considered a routine part of life in our community, it is because of CAFB’s exemplary performance.

Even so, there is always potential for disaster such as the one we witnessed Tuesday.

Today, we hold the families of those 15 Marines and one Navy corpsman in our hearts. We stand in awe of their sacrifice and are mindful of the debt of gratitude we owe to all who serve.

We also are reminded that these “routine” training flights we have grown so accustomed to are not entirely without risks.

Today, and in the days to come, when we see those CAFB pilots in the skies over our community, it seems only right that we pause for a moment and recognize their service and the sacrifice they stand ready to make.

Some things are easy to take for granted. The important work performed by our servicemen and civilian workers at CAFB should not be obscured by their expert performances.

We grieve for the loss those families and our nation has suffered, and are thankful for the service our military provides.

Online: http://www.cdispatch.com/

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