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Voter registration deadline for primary election approaching

The voter registration deadline for Mississippi’s primary election is a little under two weeks away, set for July 8.

Circuit Clerk offices will be open Saturday July 6 from 8 a.m. to noon and until 5 p.m. Monday July 8 to accept voter registration applications, according to a press release from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office. Mailed in applications must be postmarked by July 8, according to the release.

Absentee voting began Monday and is available to anyone who will be away from their county of residence on Election Day, persons who are temporarily or permanently disabled or older than 65 and for a number of other reasons, according to the press release.

Voters who have moved or changed their name since the last election must update their registration information to cast a ballot in the correct precinct, the release states.

A mail-in voter registration form can be downloaded from the Y’all Vote website or voter registration applications can be picked up from the Circuit Clerk’s office.

In Mississippi residents are eligible to register if they will be at least 18 years old by November 5, have been a Mississippi resident for at least 30 days, have not been convicted of a disenfranchising crime and have not been adjudicated as mentally incompetent, according to the release.

There are 22 disenfranchising crimes: voter fraud, murder, rape, bribery, theft, arson, obtaining money or goods under false pretense, perjury, forgery, embezzlement, bigamy, armed robbery, extortion, felony bad check, felony shoplifting, larceny, receiving stolen property, robbery, timber larceny, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, statutory rape, carjacking or larceny under lease or rental agreement, according to the Mississippi Y’all Vote website.

Agnes Dalton, Chairwoman of the Pearl River County Democrats, said potential voters are sometimes told that they cannot vote because of a felony conviction, but if the crime committed does not fall under one of the 22 disenfranchising crimes, people are still eligible to vote. None of the disenfranchising crimes are drug crimes, Dalton said.

Thirty-four percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the last Pearl River County General Election in November 2018, while only 10 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the last PRC primary election in June 2018.

“A lot of people have gotten disgusted with the way the system works and feel like their vote doesn’t count,” Dalton said.

Mike Tyson, Chairman of the Republican Executive Committee said the local Republican Party is concerned about the low number of voters who show up to the polls.

“Men and women have fought and died to give you that right and to disregard it and not do that—you’re really not living up to your duty as a citizen and personally too, you’re not having any input about the process,” Tyson said.

PRC Democrats recommend everyone call the Circuit Clerk’s office to make sure they are on the voter rolls and ensure their name and address is correct, Dalton said. The group will also help anyone who needs assistance getting to the Circuit Clerk’s office to register to vote, Dalton said and can be contacted through their Facebook page.

For more information about voter registration, Mississippians can call the Elections Division at 601-576-2550.

The community can meet with Republican candidates at Southern Char on July 11 at 6 p.m., Tyson said. The community can meet with Democratic candidates on July 13 at the Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library from 2 to 4 p.m., Dalton said.