When are affidavit ballots counted as votes?
Published 7:00 am Friday, June 28, 2019
When someone goes to their polling precinct and is not listed in the pollbook, they can cast an affidavit ballot, said Circuit Clerk Nance Stokes. An affidavit ballot is provisional and is not automatically counted as a vote until that person’s eligibility to vote is verified.
Sometimes voters are not in the pollbook because their address is not updated at the Circuit Clerk’s office, Stokes said, or because an occurrence made the clerk’s office believe the voter moved. Things that might trigger the clerk’s office to believe someone moved include returned mail like a jury duty summons or mail that was returned to the department of public safety, Stokes said.
When the office receives information that a voter has moved, a confirmation card is sent to the address the office has on record to verify the address, Stokes said. If the office does not get a response, the voter remains on inactive status until the address is confirmed, Stokes said.
Voters who are put on inactive status are not purged from the voting rolls, but their name is just not printed in the pollbook at their precinct, Stokes said.
When a voter goes to their polling precinct and discovers they are not in the pollbook because their address is not up to date, they can fill out and sign the affidavit ballot, and their vote will count, Stokes said.
If a voter casts an affidavit ballot in the wrong precinct, their affidavit ballot will not count as a vote, Stokes said.
“If they’re living in Picayune and go vote in the Poplarville precinct and put their address as Picayune, that vote will not count,” Stokes said. “That’s really hard to explain to the voters. Basically they need to vote where they reside.”
If someone is not registered to vote, his or her affidavit ballot will not count as a vote, Stokes said. If someone registers to vote after the registration deadline, his or her affidavit ballot will not count as a vote, Stokes said.
Registered voters can update their address by calling the Circuit Clerk’s Office at 601-403-2322 until the week before the election, Stokes said.
“We hold off printing pollbooks until the Friday or Saturday before the election for that reason, because we want to make sure the pollbooks have the most updated information before they get to the polls,” Stokes said.
Voters who forget their ID when they go to vote will also be provided with an affidavit ballot, Stokes said. Again, the affidavit ballot is not automatically counted. The voter has five days after an election to bring their ID into the clerk’s office so their affidavit ballot will be counted, Stokes said. If they fail to bring in an ID, the ballot is rejected.
Voters in Mississippi can vote by absentee ballot in person or by mail.
Voters are allowed to cast an absentee ballot if they will be away from the county on Election Day, if they are required to be at work on Election Day during the times the polls will be open, if they are temporarily or permanently disabled, if they are older than 65, and for a number of other reasons.
Absentee voting for the primary election has already begun. The deadline for in-person absentee voting for the primary election is Saturday, July 6 at noon, Stokes said. Mailed absentee ballots for the primary election must be received at the Circuit Clerk’s office by 5 p.m. Monday, July 8, Stokes said. The office checks with the post office right before the deadline to make sure ballots are not missed, Stokes said. Ballots received after that deadline will be rejected, Stokes said.