Sec. of state's office taking issue with high number of absentee - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Number of absentee ballots seems questionable

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Hosemann says the average number of absentee requests should be less than five percent for the entire state. Hosemann says the average number of absentee requests should be less than five percent for the entire state.
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

With absentee voting underway in cities across the state, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says red flags are popping up with the high number of absentee ballot requests.

"It tells me that the integrity of the vote is at issue here," said Hosemann.

This comes after complaints from municipal clerks, lawmakers and even citizens. Hosemann says a high number of those ballots, this early in municipal primaries causes concern. His office will be reviewing absentee ballot applications to determine whether fraud is playing a role or if it's just voters abusing the system.

"For example, in Macon, they have 2,300 registered voters and they have about 500 absentee ballot requests, over 20 percent of the people in the whole town," said Hosemann.

Hosemann says the average number of absentee requests should be less than five percent for the entire state. Under the law, to qualify for an absentee ballot, a voter must be disabled, over the age of 65, or out of town on election day.

"So I'm not sure they're going to be able to get gas in Macon because everybody will be gone," laughed Hosemann.

After elections clerks in several cities, like Meridian, Canton and Macon will be handing over all absentee ballots.

"We'll review those absentee ballots to make sure you're a registered voter, you were alive when you cast your ballot and that you meet these absentee voting requirements and where we find differences we turn them over to the district attorney or the attorney general's office," said Hosemann.

Anyone convicted of scheming the voting system could be hit with a fine up to $5,000 and five years in prison. Even with recent convictions, Hosemann says for the most part, absentee voting fraud has seen a reduction but his office isn't slacking off from keeping a close eye on elections.

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