ELECTION DAY: What’s on the ballot, where to go to vote, poll safety, and more

ELECTION DAY: What’s on the ballot, where to go to vote, poll safety, and more

MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Mississippi voters will go to the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots for President, a U.S. Senate seat, three statewide referendums, and various other races. Here’s what you need to know about voting in South Mississippi.

At the Polls

Where do you vote? If you’re unsure where to cast your ballot, enter your home address into the Polling Place Locator found here: http://www.sos.ms.gov/pollinglocator/default.aspx

There are some new polling places for the 2020 election, and Hurricane Zeta may cause even more changes.
There are some new polling places for the 2020 election, and Hurricane Zeta may cause even more changes. (Source: Mississippi SOS)

Polls will open Tuesday, November 3, 2020 at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Any voter in line at 7 p.m. is entitled to cast a ballot.

Voter Photo ID: Voters are required to show photo identification at the polls. A voter without an acceptable form of photo identification is entitled to cast an affidavit ballot. For more information, visit www.msvoterID.ms.gov.

Campaigning: It is unlawful to campaign for any candidate within 150 feet of any entrance to a polling place, unless on private property.

Loitering: The polling places should be clear for 30 feet from every entrance of all people except elections officials, voters waiting to vote, or authorized poll watchers.

Clothing: You must be careful with what you wear to the polls when you go to vote. Mississippi does not allow T-shirts, buttons or stickers with candidates’ names or pictures on them within 150 feet of the polling center.

If you're unsure where to cast your ballot, you can find that information on the Mississippi Secretary of State's website. Just enter your home address into the Polling Place Locator found here: http://www.sos.ms.gov/pollinglocator/default.aspx

Absentee Ballots: An affidavit ballot may be counted if the voter provides an acceptable form of photo identification to the Circuit Clerk’s Office within five business days after the election. Eligible voters casting an absentee ballot by mail do NOT have to show a photo ID. Also, overseas and uniformed military voting by absentee ballot by mail, email or fax do not have to show a photo ID.

Despite most county courthouses in South Mississippi being closed due to Hurricane Zeta, circuit clerks' offices are still open so people can submit absentee ballots. However, the Biloxi courthouse does remain closed so anyone needing to submit an absentee ballot there will need to go to Gulfport.

In-person absentee voting at the circuit clerk’s office ended Saturday, Oct. 31.

All absentee ballots must be postmarked Tuesday, Nov. 3, and received by the circuit clerk’s office via mail by Nov. 10.

To find your county’s circuit clerk office, click HERE.

Problems at the Polls: If you run into any issues at the polls, contact your circuit clerk’s office, your county’s election commission, or file a complaint with the Secretary of State’s office by clicking HERE.

Are you registered? If you have not registered to vote, the deadline to do so has passed so you won’t be able to cast a ballot in the general election this year. Click HERE to see if you’re registered to vote in Mississippi.

Sample ballot: To view a sample ballot for the 2020 General Election, click HERE.

6:30am LIVE: Voters start lining up before the doors open to cast their votes

Mississippians will have the opportunity to vote in the November 3, 2020, General Election either in favor of, or against, Initiative Measure #65 and/or Alternative Measure #65A.

Initiative Measure #65 proposes to amend the Mississippi Constitution to allow qualified patients with debilitating medical conditions, as certified by Mississippi licensed physicians, to use medical marijuana. This amendment would allow medical marijuana to be provided only by licensed treatment centers. The Mississippi State Department of Health would regulate and enforce the provisions of this amendment.

Alternative Measure #65A is a constitutional amendment proposed as a legislative alternative measure to Initiative Measure No. 65 and would establish a program to allow the medical use of marijuana products by qualified persons with debilitating medical conditions.

A comparison chart showing Initiative 65 versus Alternative 65A
A comparison chart showing Initiative 65 versus Alternative 65A (Source: www.MedicalMarijuana2020.com)

Mississippians will also have the chance to vote in favor or against the new state flag design. The flag will need to receive a majority of the vote to become the next state flag. If it does not, the process will start over, with a commission accepting new designs and once again narrowing them down until one is selected to appear on the ballot next year.

Mississippi voters will choose 'yes' or 'no' on the state flag design.
Mississippi voters will choose 'yes' or 'no' on the state flag design. (Source: Secretary of State Michael Watson)

To see a sample ballot, click HERE.

COVID-19 Safety at the Polls

To ensure voting is safe and secure on Election Day, the Secretary of State’s Office is providing the following to all counties:

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE): Every poll manager will be provided with a mask, face shield, and gloves to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Hand sanitizer for each polling place.
  • Masks for voters who do not bring their own to the polling place and wish to wear a mask. (Voters are not required to wear a mask, and voters can not be turned away or denied the right to vote if not wearing a mask.)
  • Single use pens and/or styluses so voters can cast a ballot without touching a previously used marking device. Voters may take the pen or stylus as they leave the polling place or place the item in a box to be sanitized for future use.
  • Disinfectant supplies for sanitizing the polling place.
  • House Bill 1789 allows for at least one additional poll manager in each polling place to be hired specifically for sanitizing the polling place and assisting with social distancing for COVID-19. Individual counties may purchase additional supplies and sanitizing equipment to protect both election officials and voters, such as sneeze guards/protective barriers, and other items deemed essential by the county.
  • All voters are strongly encouraged to wear a mask to the polling place, abide by social distancing recommendations, and practice good COVID-19 hygiene.
  • Candidates or certified poll watchers are asked to wear masks when observing. Failure to wear a mask, if the county/state is under a mask mandate, may result in being asked to leave the polling place.
  • If the physical structure of the polling place allows, the polling place should have a separate entrance and a separate exit for voters.
  • Any voter exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 on Election Day, which include but are not limited to coughing, vomiting, headaches, fever, sore throat, congestion, or loss of taste and/or smell, is encouraged to vote curbside and not enter the polling place. For questions or concerns regarding curbside voting, please contact your local Circuit Clerk or Election Commissioners.
  • Polling places will be arranged, if possible, to allow for six (6) feet between voters. Polling places will have visible markings to clearly indicate where voters are to stand. Any poll manager may enforce the social distancing recommendations currently in place.
  • When evaluating a voter’s photo ID, poll managers may ask the voter to step back six (6) feet and briefly lower his/her face covering so the poll manager can identify the voter in accordance with the Mississippi Voter ID Laws and Administrative Rules.
6am LIVE: Safety at the polls on Election Day
SOS Michael Watson looks ahead to Election Day

Copyright 2020 WLOX. All rights reserved.