riley collins

Former Mississippi ACLU director Jennifer Riley Collins is campaigning to be the state’s next attorney general.

TUPELO • With the state’s general election less than two weeks away, Democratic candidate for attorney general Jennifer Riley Collins is campaigning to operate the state’s law top law enforcement agency in a way that protects and represents “all Mississippians.”

Riley Collins is the former executive director of the state’s ACLU and a former intelligence officer for the U.S. Army. She met with the Daily Journal’s editorial board, and said she is advocating to protect children and elderly citizens.

A Meridian native, Riley Collins said she thinks there are more civil rights areas that need to be improved in the state, especially concerning the state’s voting laws.

“You can file your taxes with the IRS on your smart device,” Riley Collins said. “Why are we not allowed to register to vote online? To me, the right to vote is access to democracy. So, to me that is a civil rights matter.”

She also criticized the state’s absentee ballot process and said the process could discourage some people from voting. According to state law, if voters wish to vote absentee, they must request an absentee ballot from their circuit clerk’s office and list a valid excuse for not being able to vote on election day. Then, the voter must sometimes get the absentee ballot notarized, which can cost money.

Riley Collins criticized this process and said voters having to pay a notary fee is a poll tax, which could disenfranchise some people from casting a ballot.

She said one of the things she would do differently than her predecessor is to create a division within the attorney general’s office to monitor labor and workforce issues.

“We have to rely upon the federal department of labor,” she said. “I want to use that division very similar to how the Attorney General’s Office uses the consumer protection section right now so that workers understand what their rights are.”

When she was the executive director of the state’s ACLU, Riley Collins said she filed lawsuits against large pharmaceutical companies for illegally raising the costs of prescription drugs, which is something she would do if she was elected attorney general.

“When you think of prices going up on generic drugs, that just makes no sense to me. People are already using generic drugs because they cannot afford the name brand pharmaceuticals. We always want to make sure that people can access the healthcare prescriptions that are necessary for them to live their full lives.”

Riley Collins is one of two black women who have been nominated by a major party in this year’s statewide election. She will face State Treasurer Lynn Fitch, the Republican nominee, in the general election on Nov. 5, marking the first time in the state’s history a woman is elected to the position of attorney general.

taylor.vance@journalinc.com

Twitter: @taylor_vance28

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