News Column

Still Time to Vote Absentee in Mississippi

Oct. 30, 2012

Patsy R. Brumfield, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo

Absentee voting looks checkered across Northeast Mississippi one week from national election day.

In Lafayette County, Circuit Clerk Baretta Mosley reported already as many absentee votes as the 2008 total.

"We were expecting this since we've had an increase in population," she said Monday.

Four years ago, Prentiss County native son Travis Childers was fighting for re-election to Congress, and that may be why absentee voting there was so much higher than this year, speculated Circuit Clerk Mike Kelly.

Nearly 800 absentee votes were received in 2008, compared with 367 so far this year, Kelly said.

Absentee voter lines stretched out the door and down the hall in DeSoto County, north Mississippi and the 1st Congressional District's most populous county south of Memphis.

"We've voted more than 3,200 so far --275 on Saturday," said Clerk Dale Thompson.

An assistant in her office also said it's averaging about 400 absentee votes a day, with expectations for 6,000 total, about the same as four years ago.

Absentee voting appeared down or about the same compared to 2008 in Alcorn, Monroe and Union counties, a random check found.

Voters across the nation will go to the polls Nov. 6.

Absentee voting in Mississippi continues:

--In person, at the clerk's office until noon Saturday.

--By mail, must be received in the clerk's office by 5 p.m. Nov. 5.

Military absentee ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

"Absentee voting is typically a pretty good indicator of voter turnout on Election Day," said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

Last week, he said voters were turning out but not in numbers comparable with the previous presidential election cycle, when nearly 10 percent of the votes cast were absentee.

Almost 68 percent of the absentee ballots requested to be sent to Mississippi voters by mail have been returned and processed in local circuit clerk offices. The total number of absentee ballots mailed to registered voters for the Nov. 6 election is 42,086.

Across the U.S. some 39.7 million or 30 percent of all votes in the 2008 presidential election were cast prior to Election Day.

George Mason University's Dr. Michael McDonald, who studies elections, said 2008 was a "significant increase" from 2004's 20 percent and likely to increase as more states adopt early voting.

Mississippi does not have early voting.



Source: (c)2012 the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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