/Sen Blount Mississippi’s burdensome absentee voting process resembles poll tax

Sen Blount Mississippi’s burdensome absentee voting process resembles poll tax

It is not certain that they will achieve the feat, according to state senator David Blount (D-Jackson), who held a press conference at the Hinds County Courthouse Friday with Circuit Clerk Zack Wallace in order to discuss the matter. Blount stated that he believes the more people vote, the better government you will have. He also suggested that voting should be easier. Absentee voting is complicated because applicants must fill out an application and have it notarized before they can send it back to the circuit clerk who will then mail a ballot. Before it can be returned, the ballot must also be notarized. The deadline for counties to submit results from the Nov. 6, election to the state to be certified is Nov. 16. There are many reasons why counties might miss this deadline. However, if the Friday, November 16 deadline is met the ballots can be mailed the next Monday to the requester (e.g., a student at an out-of-state college). The college student might not receive the ballot until November 21, the day before Thanksgiving. To meet the deadline, the college student will need to locate a notary to return the ballot to the circuit clerk’s office before Monday, Nov. 26, 5 p.m. Blount filed bills to allow early voting in the past and to allow college students be treated as Mississippians who live overseas, such like those in the Peace Corps or military. These ballots can be sent back and received via email. They do not need to be notarized. A second option is to allow clerks to send an absentee vote to everyone who asks for one. He stated that if we want to encourage young people to vote, we must improve our process. He said that the current process was similar to a poll tax. This was once imposed in order to stop African Americans voting. In many cases, it is expensive to have a document notarized. He also stated that to ensure safety during the Nov. 27, runoff, it makes sense to pay additional postage to speed up the delivery of the ballot to the clerk’s office. Blount stated that Mississippi has historically not made it easy for people to vote. Blount stated, “That’s a fact. But we can change it.” Blount also said that he will file another bill during the 2019 session to make it easier for Mississippians to vote. Blount stated that 37 states have already implemented early voting. If they will be outside their county on election day, or if they turn 65 years old or older, Mississippians can vote early at the circuit clerk’s offices. Each county’s circuit clerk’s office is expected to be open until noon on Saturdays leading up to the election for absentee voting. A person can request an absentee vote if they are not in town on Election Day. The November 27th runoff ballot will include the U.S. Senate special election between Democrat Mike Espy, interim Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde Smith, and other judicial elections. This special election was necessary due to the retirement of long-time Senator Thad Cochran earlier this year for health reasons. Because none of the four candidates in the field received a majority vote on November 6, Espy and Hyde Smith advanced to a second round. To be eligible for voting on Nov. 27, a person doesn’t have to have voted Nov. 6. Mississippi Today has the complete coverage of the historic runoff election between Cindy Hyde Smith and Mike Espy.