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State Board of Election Commissioners approve Young’s withdrawal for health reason

By: Sarah Ulmer - September 6, 2023

Photo provided by Shuwaski Young

The Mississippi Democratic Party will be submitting a substitute candidate as their party’s nominee in the Secretary of State race against incumbent Republican Michael Watson.

The State Board of Election Commissioners, which consists of Governor Tate Reeves, Secretary of State Michael Watson and Attorney General Lynn Fitch, met late Wednesday to consider the withdrawal of Democratic nominee for Secretary of State Shuwaski Young.

Reeves, Watson, and Fitch are all Republicans.

Young, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination, announced on Sunday, August 27th that he was withdrawing from the Secretary of State race.

“Recently, I suffered a hypertensive crisis which placed an immediate and continuous challenge on my ability to campaign for the Office of Secretary of State. My intent was to press forward knowing full-well the risk being placed on my health due to a rigorous campaign schedule. I can no longer take this risk,” Young said in a statement. “Therefore, I am announcing my intent to withdraw my candidacy for Secretary of State.”

READ MORE: Young, Democratic nominee for Secretary of State, announces his withdrawal from race

Watson, the incumbent Secretary of State, said to avoid any appearance of impropriety, a designee from his office would attended the meeting of the Election Commissioners. Kyle Kirkpatrick, Assistant Secretary of State for Elections, represented the Secretary’s office but abstained from voting given that the matter at hand pertained to Watson’s own election contest.

According to Mississippi Code Election Code § 23-15-317, a candidate who wishes to withdraw for a “legitimate nonpolitical reason” – reasons of health, family, or business conflict – can submit the reason by sworn affidavit to the state party chair of the nominee’s party and the State Board of Election Commissioners. If the Board accepts the reason, the Democratic Executive Committee can appoint someone to substitute for the nomination. 

At Wednesday’s meeting of the Election Commissioners, Governor Reeves and Attorney General Fitch accepted the withdrawal of Young for health reasons after a motion was made by Attorney General Fitch.

This now allows the Democratic Party to submit a substitute candidate to be placed on the ballot in Young’s stead.

According to Mississippi Democratic Party executive director Andre Wagner, the party does expect to submit the name of a substitute candidate soon, perhaps before week’s end. However, in a phone call early Wednesday ahead of the meeting, Wagner would not speculate as to who that substitute candidate would be just yet.

Once the Democratic Party submits the name of the substitute candidate, the Secretary of State’s office will verify and complete the process. The State Board of Election Commissioners will then meet again to approve the ballot ahead of the November General Election, which could come as early as next week.

Magnolia Tribune will continue to follow this story and report on who the Mississippi Democratic Party names as their nominee in the Secretary of State race.

About the Author(s)
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Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: