Comparatively, 2016 saw just over 101,000 absentee votes, or 8% of total turnout. Although some absentees this year are likely to be rejected by the system, the total number of votes received is 128% higher than 2016’s. On Monday, Secretary of State Michael Watson reported that 248,335 absentee votes had been requested and 247,650 had already been sent. 231,031 were returned to the circuit clerk’s offices. Saturday was the last day to vote in absentee, however mail-in ballots received within five days of receipt will still count. Many circuit clerks across the state have reported high absentee voting, and many expect a large in-person turnout on Tuesday. Some counties, especially those with larger populations, have experienced remarkable increases in absentee voter turnout this year. Hinds County, for instance, had 5,255 absentee ballots in 2016. The county had 16,917 absentee ballots as of Sunday’s election. Watson stated last week that Mississippi had seen more than 113,000 new voters register for this election cycle. Mississippi has some of the strictest early voting laws in the country. It is the only state that does not allow citizens to vote early, rather than going to crowded precincts during the pandemic. Only those who will be out of their home on Election Day, people 65 years and older, as well as people with disabilities, are permitted to vote absentee in person or via mail. Two new rules were established by a federal lawsuit against the Mississippi secretary-of-state last week. Election officials must send correspondence to voters about any issues with absentee ballot signature verification. The voter has a period of 10 days to rectify it. Election officials must also provide curbside voting opportunities for those with COVID-19 symptoms and/or who have been exposed.