"Amazing" absentee voting turnout creates quite a buzz

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Circuit clerks have never seen anything like it. Their offices were once again swamped with voters who desperately wanted to fill out absentee ballots. Mississippians mad dash to vote before Tuesday's election ends on Saturday. So on Friday, south Mississippians who won't be in town next week rushed to their circuit clerks offices and let their voices be heard.

Countless numbers of people stood in lengthy lines outside Gayle Parker's office. One voter looked at the crowd and said, "Unbelievable. I thought I'd just run in and run out."

Instead, absentee voters had to patiently wait for a chance to fill out a presidential ballot.

When Larry Strout reached the Harrison County Circuit Clerk's office and saw the line, he called it "a little surprising."

At times, people waited about 20 minutes just to get into the front door. Once they did that, they were surprised to find out they had to wait again. One woman said she was "really surprised. But it moved quick."

Before voters received ballots, clerks had to verify their names on voter rolls. Lewis Wise was glad to get this procedure over with on Friday.

"I figured there would be a little line. But not like it's going to be on Tuesday," he said.

When Circuit Clerk Gayle Parker was asked if she had seen a voting buzz like this before, she simply said, "No."

The crowd Friday was just like it was a day earlier, when more than 600 Harrison County voters cast absentee ballots. That means, with one day to go in absentee voting, more than 6,000 people have dropped their choices for president, for U.S. Senate, and for the state supreme court into an envelop, and then into a blue box.

"Everybody's interested," Parker said. "It's amazing. And it's encouraging to see so many people encouraged about an election. And to get people out."

Mississippi doesn't have early voting. That's why one voter said the crowds lined up for absentee ballots were something to see.

"I didn't think I'd see this on the gulf coast. But I guess it's just amazing, don't you think," he said.

Absentee voting is open to people who will be out town next week, people who have to work during the election, and people with special needs. If you fall into one of those categories, you have from 8:00 until noon on Saturday to go by your circuit clerk's office and fill out a ballot.