We are advocating for online voter registration during the 2019 legislative session. You can help us lobby for it, too. Contact Advocacy Coordinator Shalonda Spencer at sspencer@aclu-ms.org to get started!

Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy.  Unfortunately, access to the voting polls in Mississippi is limited.  As our lives become more complex, confining voting to an absentee process is not reflective of how most voters live. Absentee voting in Mississippi requires an application process and a valid excuse for voting before Election Day. Not only does this process delay a person’s will to vote, particularly if they live far from their county courthouse and must depend on snail mail, this process also allows for errors and forces voters to provide a reason for choosing to vote by absentee. The only valid allowances to your vote via absentee ballot are that:

  • You will be away from the county on Election Day;
  • You have a physical disability that makes it difficult to vote in-person;
  • You are aged 65 years or older; or
  • You will be unable to vote in person because you are required to be at work on Election Day during the times the polls will be open.

Download our Early Voting infographic below!

These reasons impact a voting age student who is away at school or in an extracurricular activity.  Working mothers who are juggling work and active children may not have time to participate in the electoral process. Election Day voting and absentee voting do not have remediation procedures that ensure every vote is counted.

 

The Solution:

No-excuse early voting improves both election administration and voter satisfaction. No-excuse early voting would allow courthouses to open for two weeks (excluding Sundays) prior to Election Day. The Brennan Center for Justice has identified five major ways[1] in which early voting can help the voting process run more smoothly:

  1. Reduces Stress on the Voting System on Election Day

Spreading voting out over two weeks helps to alleviate the burdens and challenges posed on a single day. This eases the voting process overall and reduces stress on Election Day.

  1. Shorter Lines on Election Day

Having a two-week window reduces wait time and leads to happier voters because they can choose a time to vote that is least intrusive to their schedule.

  1. Improved Poll Worker Performance

Most poll workers only work one day a year. If they are first-time poll workers, they may be overwhelmed on Election Day. An early voting period gives election workers and volunteers valuable experience in the run-up to Election Day so that they are much more efficient at handling a higher volume of voters.

  1. Prevention and Correction of Errors

An early voting window allows corrections to be made that might not have time to be amended on Election Day. In the 2016 Presidential Election, 7% of absentee ballots were not counted either due to voter or clerical error. A pre-election day voting period would help to easily identify and correct ballot mistakes.

  1. Greater Access to Voting and Increased Voter Satisfaction

Early voters are happier voters. Long lines and a limited number of hours on Election Day can cause stress for busy voters. The accessibility and flexibility leads to a greater number of people participating in the political process. Thirty-seven (37) states and the District of Columbia allow for early voting.

 

 

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