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Bill to allow early in-person voting will not be considered by Mississippi House of Representatives

voter machine stock image
Photo courtesy of the official website of Forrest County, Mississippi

Efforts to bring Mississippi alongside the vast majority of states that allow early in-person voting have been squashed by the House of Representatives.

Per a report from Mississippi Today, House Elections chairman Noah Sanford, a Republican from Collins, made it known that he would not be bringing Senate Bill 2580 up for a floor vote ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, ultimately setting up the bill to die on calendar.

SB 2580, authored by Senator Jeremy England, R-Vancleave, was proposed to allow voters to show up to their local circuit clerk’s office up to 15 days before an election, present a valid photo identification, and cast a ballot.

The measure was passed overwhelmingly by the Senate in a 44-8 vote. The legislation was set up to end Mississippi’s 45-day in-person absentee voting period, which has allegedly caused delays in counting votes on election night. In addition, voters would no longer have been required to place their ballots in an envelope with their signature attached to be counted manually on election night per current absentee voting laws. Instead, each ballot cast under the new system still would have been counted on election night, but electronically.

Under the reformed early in-person voting model, voters would have been afforded the chance to cast a ballot without having to issue a reason or justification as to why they couldn’t exercise that right on election day.

“This is very convenient for our hardest workers out there — our first responders, our single parents that may work a shift, have to drive home, pick up the kids, cook dinner, and go to soccer practice,” England said. “On a Tuesday, that may be tough, so they may throw their hands up and say, ‘I’m just not going to vote.’ This gives them the opportunity to go vote earlier.”

At the time of publication, Sanford had not responded to a request for comment from SuperTalk Mississippi News regarding his decision to prevent his chamber colleagues from voting on the legislation. He did, however, say during Thursday’s committee meeting that he would like to give circuit clerks and other election officials to weigh in on the matter before passing any legislation that would drastically change the early voting process in Mississippi.

Though the measure will not be implemented this year, England expects to bring it back up next session. Until then, Mississippi will remain one of three states that does not allow early in-person voting.

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