New ballot initiative could bring early voting to Mississippi

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 7:28 AM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Early voting could be headed for Mississippi soon. Some are working to gain support for a ballot initiative that would create no less than 10 days of early in-person voting.

The Mississippi Early Voting Initiative is currently gathering signatures on a petition so the measure can be filed with the Secretary of State’s office in hopes of appearing on ballots statewide by the 2023 election year.

There are currently five ballot initiatives that are live right now but Secretary of State Michael Watson believes the topic of early voting will generate a lot of discussion.

“It is one that is going to generate a lot of attention. I think you’ll see some outside dollars come in trying to push that in to Mississippi. It is a discussion we will have,” said Watson. “Again, we saw what happened in 2020. When you look at early voting, there is a way to get it right, if you look at states like Florida and others. So I am not saying there is no way it can work; what I am saying is Mississippi has not implemented it at this point and time.”

Once filed with the Secretary of State’s office, the initiative would require a minimum of 106,190 certified signatures. If that happens, the initiative would appear on ballots across the state in 2023.

The bill was authored by Kelly Jacobs of Hernando, Miss. and sponsored by State Representative Hester Jackson-McCray of Horn Lake, Miss.

Jacbos stressed that early voting will help get rid of or minimize voter suppression.

“Voter suppression is being told you can only vote on a Tuesday for 12 hours,” said Kelly Jacobs, one of the organizers behidn the initiative. “Many people cannot get to the ballot box then, but they do have opinions and they want to cast them and 43 other states have early voting. They found that it is very effective.”

The Magnolia State has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the county. Currently, Mississippi is one of six states that does not offer in-person early voting.

Critics of early voting say it lends itself to voter fraud, and Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves has made it clear he is against the idea, tweeting this past November that he would do everything in his power to stop mail-in voting, as well as early voting.

It is still early in the initiative process and organizers have yet to officially register the measure with the Secretary of State’s office. Once that is done, the official ballot title and summary will be prepared by the Mississippi Attorney General.

To learn more about the efforts to get the Mississippi Early Voting Initiative passed or for details on how to sign a petition, you can join the Facebook group by clicking here.

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