Your Guide to Absentee Voting in Mississippi
This November, Mississippi is holding its gubernatorial elections. These elections are important because we’re voting on the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Secretary of State seats, along with state executive offices, state senate, state house, and special state legislative. All statewide positions will be up for grabs this year, so the next slate of elected officials will play a huge part in Mississippi’s future.
Important Dates for Absentee Voting in Mississippi
The primary elections for the gubernatorial elections are on August 6th. If you’re already registered to vote and you know you won’t be able to make it to the polls on election day, absentee voting should be your MO.
Before getting started with the absentee voting process, here are some important dates you should keep in mind:
- June 7 — Absentee applications become available
- June 24 — Absentee ballots become available
- July 8 at 5 p.m. — Voter registration ends for Primary Election
- August 3 at 12 p.m.– Absentee ballots submitted in person to Circuit Clerk
- August 5 at 5 p.m. — Circuit Clerk must receive absentee ballots in mail
- August 6 — Deadline for absentee voting for UOCAVA voters
- August 6 — Primary Election
- September 6 — Absentee applications become available for General Election
- September 21 — Absentee ballots become available for General Election
- October 7 at 5 p.m. — Voter registration ends for General Election
- November 4 at 5 p.m. — Absentee ballots due
- November 5 — General Election
If you’re not already registered to vote, you should make that your first move. Since Mississippi doesn’t allow online voting registration, here are two ways you can register:
- Call your Circuit or Municipal Clerk’s Office. Find your Circuit Clerk’s contact information!
- Print the application and mail to your Circuit Clerk’s Office!
Get Your Absentee Ballot
So, you’re registered to vote, but you don’t know if you’ll be able to make it to the polls on Election Day. What’s your next move?
You find out if you’re eligible to vote absentee.
Since Mississippi doesn’t allow no-excuse absentee voting, you have to have an actual reason as to why you can’t make it to the polls (AKA you can’t just tell them you don’t feel like it).
You can vote absentee if one of the following reasons applies to you:
- You’ll be outside your home county on Election Day.
- You’re a student, teacher or administrator at a school where your studies or employment there necessitates absence from your home county on Election Day (spouses and dependents of such voters are also eligible to vote absentee)
- You’re disabled and therefore unable to vote in person
- You’re the parent, spouse or dependent of a disabled person who is hospitalized outside of the county of residence or more than 50 miles away and will be with the disabled person on Election Day
- You’re 65 years old or older
- You’re required to be at work on Election Day during polling hours
So, you’re eligible. What happens next?
You submit an application for an absentee ballot. You must:
- call your Circuit or Municipal Clerk’s Office and ask for an application
Keep in mind that absentee ballots are only available starting 45 days before the elections. If you apply for an absentee ballot beforehand, you have to wait until the day the ballots are released for your ballot to be mailed to you. After that date, you can call your Circuit Clerk’s Office, ask for an absentee ballot, and have it mailed to you immediately.
Time to Vote!
Now that you have the ballot, it’s time to vote! Take time to research the candidates and their positions on issues that you care about. Fill out the form and make sure it’s signed and dated. Once it’s complete, return your form to your Circuit Clerk’s Office address via mail or in person.
If you need a stamp to send your absentee ballot, visit your local post office or buy some stamps on the USPS website or Amazon to have them delivered to you. You can often get stamps from the checkout clerk at your neighborhood grocery store.
Make sure your application is received by the following deadlines: in person by noon three days before the elections or in the mail by 5 p.m. on the day before the elections. Remember that if you send your ballot via mail, make sure it will be received by 5 p.m. the day before the elections, not just postmarked by that date.
If you follow all the instructions correctly but still never receive your absentee ballot in the mail, don’t worry! You can fill out a Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot and your vote will still count!
Congrats! You have successfully completed absentee voting.
UOCAVA Absentee Voting
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) is a law that allows military and overseas voters to vote absentee. You have until the day of the elections to send in your ballot, and you’ll need to fill out fill out your Federal Postcard Application to get a ballot. You can either print this form and return it to your home county’s Circuit Clerk’s Office, or you can fill it out electronically. Find your Circuit Clerk’s email information and send your application to them. Be sure to include your email in your application if you would like your absentee ballot to be sent to you that way!
Once you have received your absentee ballot, email or mail your ballot back to your Circuit Clerk’s address. You can even print a pre-stamped envelope.
Absentee Voting in Other States
Want to know more about the absentee voting process for other states?
- 28 states, including DC, allow ANY citizen to complete an absentee ballot!
- 3 states — Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — conduct elections using only mail, so there’s no need for absentee ballots at all!
- 35 states, including DC, permit no-excuse early voting — also referred to as in-person absentee voting — meaning that people can cast votes at a polling place before election day, making it easier for more people to find time to vote!
If any of these processes make you wish Mississippi did absentee voting differently, call your representative and ask them to consider supporting one of these ideas! Find out how to contact your representatives.