Sen. David Blounts says Mississippians ought to take pleasure in safer, “common sense election reform” that haven’t materialized. So a plan is important on Election Day. Picture by Kristin Brenemin
Absentee voting is underway now. As a result of state regulation prohibits most Mississippians from voting early or by mail, lengthy strains at crowded polling locations are doubtless on Election Day.
It did not need to be this manner.
This would be the highest voter turnout in 4 years, with races for president, U.S. senator and the state flag on the poll. All Mississippians want to have the ability to vote and vote safely. We must be ready. As a substitute, we now have seen an entire failure to take care of Mississippi’s restrictive voting legal guidelines, even within the face of a pandemic.
For years and once more final week, I’ve proposed common sense election reforms that almost all People take pleasure in: on-line voter registration (greater than 40 states); no excuse early voting in individual (greater than 40 states); and restoration of suffrage after an individual completes his/her sentence (40 states). These measures have failed in Mississippi annually.
This 12 months, with COVID-19 raging, I supplied two easy options to be ready for Election Day: Let each Mississippi voter forged a poll early in individual (displaying Voter ID because the regulation requires) and enhance our absentee voting-by-mail course of for these at the moment eligible.These proposals had been all rejected.
In case you are below 65, not disabled, not below a “physician-imposed quarantine” and never away from your own home county on Election Day, you’ll be standing in line on the polls.
You can not vote early. You can not vote by mail. Concern about COVID-19 is just not a authorized excuse.
Traces shall be lengthy, and other people shall be compelled to attend. Polling locations are sometimes crowded. Gov. Tate Reeves’ most up-to-date order prohibits group gatherings of greater than 20 folks indoors. And ballot employees, who work 14-hour days on Election Day, are often older.
In case you are a senior citizen and select to vote by mail from residence, you have to request an absentee-ballot utility out of your Circuit Clerk, have it notarized by a notary public, mail it in, obtain your absentee poll, have it notarized by a notary public and mail it in. Your poll have to be postmarked by Election Day to rely.
Mississippi is the one state within the nation that requires each the absentee utility and poll envelope to be notarized. Republicans rejected our efforts to vary this process.
Some have criticized vote-by-mail in different states (5 states have fully vote-by-mail elections). To be clear: Nobody in Mississippi has proposed mailing ballots to each individual on the voter rolls. Republicans and Democrats know the rolls are inflated in lots of counties. We’ve proposed that when a citizen initiates the method of voting absentee by mail that the method be handy and protected. And, clearly, demand for vote-by-mail would lower if residents may vote early in individual.
In brief, in Mississippi the voting course of is just not designed to be user-friendly or encourage participation. We’ve made it harder for residents to vote than every other state. If we are saying we wish “to run state authorities like a enterprise,” our election officers ought to decide to the enterprise tenet that the shopper is all the time proper. The voter is the shopper, and he or she needs higher customer support.
A lawsuit is pending in federal court docket to attain what I proposed through the session. This may not have been obligatory if the Legislature had been proactive and addressed apparent issues.
No matter who you’ll vote for, none of us ought to need any Mississippian to have issue casting his or her poll. None of us need to say “I instructed you so” if issues happen on Election Day. None of us choose to have our state’s issues solved in court docket.
The underside line is make a plan to vote now. If in case you have any questions on voting, please name your Circuit Clerk at present. They’ll reply your questions regarding absentee voting (if you happen to qualify) and steps you might want to take. Do not wait till the final minute.
It’s previous time for Mississippi to vary our voting legal guidelines to make sure that each Mississippian can vote and vote safely in our elections. Till then, voters have to plan forward—as a result of their state authorities did not.
Sen. David Blount represents District 29 (Hinds County) within the State Senate. Previous to being elected in 2007, he labored for 13 years for 2 Mississippi secretaries of state. He’s vice chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus and serves on the Senate Elections Committee.