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Lawmaker aims to simplify absentee ballot process for college students

Are you tired of jumping through hoops to receive an absentee ballot, a new bill may fix that.

Elections are supposed to be designed to ensure that everyone’s voices are heard, but some feel that a lengthy procedure for college students may keep them out of the electoral process. To receive an absentee ballot, students must request them, it must then be notarized, sent back (notarized again) and then you may have to do it all over again in the case of a runoff election. Senator David Blount hopes to simplify that process for students registered to vote in Mississippi that may be away at school during elections.

“Right now it’s complicated, it’s cumbersome, and it’s even expensive, and we need to change it,” Blount said. It’s a real disincentive to Mississippians who are registered to vote and are away at college for them to participate in the process, and we ought to make it easier for them to participate because their voices are important.”

Blount says the process for these cases must be simplified, and that a successful model already exists.

“We’ve got a model out there that works very well, and that’s the model that we have in place for military voters and Mississippians who live overseas. We need to first eliminate the notary requirement and have a witness instead notaries are hard to find and sometimes expensive. You shouldn’t have to pay multiple times in order to vote in an election. We need to make it automatic that you receive a ballot to vote if you can show proof that you an enrolled college student.”

A bill passed in the Senate last year that would eliminate the notary requirement, and Blount says that this new bill has a great chance to receive bipartisan support and may be introduced as early as next week.

“The government is stronger the more people participate, and we need to make it a user-friendly process for Mississippians who have the right to vote, to exercise that right,” Blount said.

Blount also mentioned voter processes such as online voter registration and early voting as ways that people can get involved.

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