djr-2018-11-07-news-votingp3

Fred Mothershed of Tupelo turns away from the voting table after casting his vote in the 2018 midterm election at Parkway Baptist Church.

TUPELO • Voters in Mississippi can now request to vote by absentee ballot for the general election in November.

With the election taking place in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost every circuit clerk in Northeast Mississippi is anticipating an uptick in the number of people who will vote by absentee ballot. To help the process go smoother, most election officials recommend voters planning to vote by absentee start planning to vote now instead of waiting until late October or November.

Camille Roberts Dulaney, Lee County circuit clerk, told the Daily Journal if voters qualify for absentee voting, they can either choose to come into the circuit clerk’s office to vote or request an absentee ballot by mail.

Mississippi is one of the few states that does not have early voting or no-excuse absentee voting. To vote absentee, voters must list a legal excuse, such as being over the age of 65, being out of town on the day of the election or being enrolled in a college out of town.

To vote by absentee in person, voters must present a valid form of photo ID and sign an affidavit acknowledging that they are voting by absentee for a legally permitted reason. To vote by mail, voters must contact their county circuit clerk’s office to request a ballot be mailed to them. Unless a voter has a permanent disability, voters must get their mail-in ballot notarized.

While both options are viable, Dulaney recommends voters come into the circuit’s office to vote by absentee so officials within the office can assist if any issues arrive.

Dulaney said her office has adequate protective equipment and protocols in place, like only allowing three or four people in the office at one time, to keep people safe.

“If you’re worried about coming into the circuit clerk’s office, we’re trying to get it to where you’re not around a ton of people,” Dulaney said.

Dulaney also recommends voters read the sample ballot online at the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office to better understand the initiatives on the ballot prior to visiting her office. This will also help limit the amount of time the voter will spend inside the circuit clerk’s office.

“If people will look at the ballot ahead of time, I think you’ll be in and out in about five minutes,” she said.

If voters have any questions about the election or voting, they are encouraged to contact their county circuit clerk or go online to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office at sos.ms.gov

taylor.vance@journalinc.com

Twitter: @Taylor_VanceDJ

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