/Mississippi absentee voting continues its record pace in 2020

Mississippi absentee voting continues its record pace in 2020

Mississippi Today has been told by circuit clerks from several high-populated counties that absentee voter turnout in the COVID-19 pandemic is higher than ever. 2020 features a presidential election as well as a U.S. Senate race between Republican Senator Cindy Hyde Smith and Democrat Mike Espy. Many clerks in the populous Hinds or Harrison counties have reported that there were long lines outside their offices waiting for voters weeks before the election. Nearly 103,000 Mississippi absentee ballots were submitted in 2016, and only 101,000 of them were accepted. Circuit clerks have received nearly 146,000 absentees so far in this election. A high percentage of absentee voting usually indicates a large in-person turnout on Election Day. 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 having to go 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.