Absentee Voting Begins Monday After Mississippi’s Lowest Primary Turnout Since 2007

Black man putting vote in voting box
Mississippians who are eligible can begin casting absentee ballots in-person for statewide, regional and legislative elections at their local circuit clerk’s office on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023.  Photo by Unsplash/Getty Images

Mississippians will be able to begin casting absentee ballots in person for this year’s statewide, regional and legislative offices beginning Monday, Sept. 25. The election, which includes major offices such as governor and attorney general and all state Senate and House seats, comes on the heels of the lowest primary turnout since 2007 in August.

“Unfortunately, the turnout for this primary election was approximately 30% of registered voters, the lowest statewide turnout since 2007, despite the promising absentee ballot numbers, and the work we’ve done registering and educating voters across the state,” Republican Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson said in his Wednesday morning newsletter.

Mississippi does not have universal early voting options, but starting Monday, eligible registered voters who meet the requirements for casting an absentee ballot can do so in person at their local circuit clerk’s office.

Those who can legally cast absentee ballots include voters who are students or teachers and will be absent from their county of residence on election day; have a permanent physical disability that causes hardship or are the spouse of someone with such a disability; have a job that requires a person to work during voting hours; or are 65 years of age or older. The Secretary of State’s website, which includes a full list of acceptable reasons to vote absentee, also notes that “any qualified elector who is away from his or her county of residence on election day for any reason” may vote absentee.

Some voters are also eligible to vote absentee by mail; click here for more information. Mississippians who reside overseas, including military service members, can vote by email. For more information, contact the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Elections Hotline at 1-800-829-6786 or send an email to UOCAVA@sos.ms.gov.

Voters will be able to cast absentee ballots in person at their circuit clerk’s office until Nov. 4 from 8 a.m. to noon; offices will also be open on Saturday, Oct. 28, at the same times for in-person absentee voting.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023. In Mississippi, voters must register 30 days before an election in order to cast a ballot on Election Day. This year, voters have until Monday, Oct. 9 to register to vote in person at their county circuit clerk’s office or until Tuesday, Oct. 10, to have their mail-in voter application postmarked.

To cast a ballot on election day, voters must bring an accepted form of photo identification under the state’s voter ID law. More information on voter ID is available here.

“As a reminder, elections directly affect every part of our daily lives. From the roads on which we drive, the amount of taxes we pay, and even the regulations on our barbers, all are controlled by the people we elect,” Watson said in his newsletter Wednesday. “Whether you show up on Election Day or not, a decision will be made as to who will be creating, regulating, and enforcing laws at both the state and county levels.”

His opponent on the Nov. 7 general election ballot is Ty Pinkins, a Democrat who is running on a platform of expanding voting access such as allowing universal early voting.

More information about voting is available at sos.ms.gov.

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