Orlando Paden, a state legislator who represents rural parts of Coahoma County, recalled a conversation with his 94-year-old aunt, who said that the comment reminded her, right away, of the scourge of lynching.

“Those types of statements kind of play back in the minds of individuals with a little age, who remember what it was like back then,” Paden said. “Guess what, my great aunt’s absentee ballot is ready, and she’s on the phone calling people.”

Peter Stewart, a 52-year-old volunteer who was traveling on a bus with a national group called Black Votes Matter, said that the comments had been “embarrassing” to all Mississippians but galvanizing for black voters. Awareness of the election had surged since then, he argued.

“Think of a wet firecracker, okay?” he said. “You can’t light a firecracker when it’s wet, but once you get it dry, it lights up even quicker.”