Shuwaski Young, Democratic candidate for secretary of state, speaks during the 2023 Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss., Thursday, July 27, 2023. Credit: Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today

The State Board of Election Commissioners voted Wednesday to allow the Mississippi Democratic Party to replace its candidate for secretary of state after its previous nominee, Shuwaski Young, announced he was withdrawing from the race. 

The three-member commission, comprised of Gov. Tate Reeves, Attorney General Lynn Fitch and Secretary of State Michael Watson, also voted to accept Young’s reason for exiting the race. 

Young announced last month that he intended to drop out of the race because he experienced a “hypertensive crisis” that would have made campaigning over the next several months difficult. 

State law allows for party nominees to withdraw from a general election if the reason is non-political, including medical reasons.

But shortly before the Democratic candidate revealed his place to withdraw from the race, an election official with the secretary of state’s office wrote Young a letter questioning if the candidate met the statutory requirements to run for office, as previously reported by Mississippi Today.

Young claimed the letter questioning his qualifications had no bearing on his final decision to exit the race. Still, it was up to the commission, made up of all Republicans, to determine if Young’s sudden exit was truly medical and not political. 

Watson, the incumbent secretary of state, sent a proxy to the meeting, but his representative abstained from voting because the issue involved Watson’s political opponent. Fitch and Reeves approved Young’s request without any major discussion.

The next step is for the Democratic Party’s executive committee to name a substitute nominee to appear on November’s general election ballot. State law does give the party a deadline for submitting a replacement, but the secretary of state’s office is required to publish a sample of the general election ballot by September 13.

Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Cheikh Taylor did not immediately respond to a request for comment on when the party intends to announce its replacement candidate. 

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Taylor, a native of Grenada, covers state government and statewide elections. He is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and Holmes Community College. Before joining Mississippi Today, Taylor reported on state and local government for the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, where he received an award for his coverage of the federal government’s lawsuit against the state’s mental health system.