Currently, the state of Mississippi allows absentee voting ahead of Election Day, but contrary to other states, the ability to vote early without declaring a reason ahead of the Election Day is not available.
There’s a push beginning to change that, however, and a DeSoto County state legislator is a sponsor behind that. Petitions seeking public support for the Mississippi Early Voting Initiative began to be circulated around the state when the month started.
The Mississippi Early Voting Initiative would amend the state constitution to give registered voters the right to vote early without an excuse.
Mississippi is one of six states in the nation that does not allow in-person early voting and has certain allowable reasons to request an absentee ballot. They include:
- you will be away from your county on Election Day for any reason;
- you are a student, teacher, or administrator at a school whose studies or employment there necessitates your absence from your county on Election Day; or you are the spouse or dependent thereof;
- you have a temporary or permanent physical disability that renders you unable to vote in person without substantial hardship;
- you are the parent, spouse, or dependent of a person with a temporary or permanent physical disability who is hospitalized outside of their county of residence or more than fifty (50) miles away, and you (the parent, spouse or dependent) will be with that person on Election Day;
- you are sixty-five (65) years of age or older;
- you will be unable to vote in person because you are required to be at work on Election Day during the times at which the polls will be open;
- you are a member, spouse, or dependent of the congressional delegation;
- you are a disabled war veteran (or spouse or dependant of such a person) in a hospital;
- you are a member (or spouse or dependent of such a person) of the Merchant Marine or American Red Cross.
State Rep. Hester Jackson-McCray (D-Horn Lake) is a sponsor of the Mississippi Early Voting Initiative.
“I know you want the convenience of early voting,” Jackson-McCray said in a news release. “We have carefully followed the process and after four months have received permission from Secretary of State (Michael) Watson to bring this petition to the people of Mississippi for their signatures.”
Jackson-McCray said at least 106,109 signatures from registered voters must be collected in a 12-month period for the initiative to be placed on the November 2023 general election ballot.