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Mississippi could allow early in-person voting in near future

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Early in-person voting could be coming to the Magnolia State.

With Mississippi being just one of three states not allowing voters to cast ballots ahead of election day, the Senate has opted to make a change to improve future elections. In a 44-8 vote, the chamber passed Senate Bill 2580, which would 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.

Sen. Jeremy England, the bill’s author, said enactment of this legislation would end Mississippi’s 45-day in-person absentee voting period, which has caused delays in counting votes on election night. If his bill becomes law, voters would no longer have 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 would still be counted on election night, but electronically.

“They print you a ballot and you cast that ballot into a scantron just like you do on election day,” England explained on The Gallo Show. “Perception is so important in our elections. If we can get votes counted on election night, we’re doing a better job. These votes would go into a scantron. They would be counted at 7 p.m. like every other vote that has been cast.”

The Republican senator from Vancleave added that voters would not have to justify their reason to vote early if the bill becomes law. He believes this will give voters who may have restrictions placed on their ability to head to the polls on the actual day of an election enough wiggle room to exercise their right to participate in the voting process.

“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. 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.”

Mail-in absentee ballots would still be available for those who qualify in Mississippi. Military members would continue to have their ballots sent to them 45 days in advance.

SB 2580 has since been sent to the House of Representatives where it was referred to the chamber’s committee on apportionment and elections. If passed and signed into law by Gov. Tate Reeves, the new system would go into effect on January 1, 2026.

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