HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said Mississippians have an obligation to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
"We do not have an option whether or not to cast your ballot," Hosemann said. "You need to understand that. That's not optional. You have a right, but you also have an obligation. On the day that you cast your ballot for president, on Tuesday, there will be men and women in fox holes and Humvees in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, all of which are protecting your right, all of which are volunteers. They're protecting your right to cast your vote. How can you tell that person that you didn't have much time to go do that and get in your truck and go vote in ten minutes? How can you look them in the face and say it was unimportant when they're defending their right like that?"
Because of this election's importance, Hosemann said Mississippians need to choose candidates who are already on the ballot, not waste their vote on a write-in candidate.
"This is my third presidential election, and I've never seen anything like this during my life time," Hosemann said. "Write-ins are not effective. You're throwing your vote away. Don't write in. That only applies if someone dies, like we had Judge Thomas die here in the Hattiesburg area, during the election cycle. If someone has died or been removed from the ballot for one source or another, then the write in would be effective. A write-in right now is throwing your vote away. Vote for somebody that's alive and on the ballot. There are seven candidates for president. One of them will be more acceptable than the others, and each and every one of us in Mississippi needs to go cast our ballot. That's how we govern. That's how we got a country, and that's how we keep a country."
Hosemann encourages Mississippians to vote in all races on the ballot, but said if voters choose candidates in certain races and not others, their ballots still count.
"We encourage everyone to vote the entire ballot, but historically in Mississippi, like in the gubernatorial election, there will be people that vote for governor who won't vote for auditor," he said. "You know, they'll skip down or go to somewhere else, so we do have what we call some ballot leak as you go down. But we're encouraging everybody to vote for president of the United States."
Hosemann's office said as of Wednesday morning, Mississippians requested more than 80,000 absentee ballots, but if voters want to change their votes, they can do so on Tuesday.
"If you have your absentee ballot that you requested, please send it in," Hosemann said. "It has to be received by 5 p.m. on Monday. So drop it in the mail, so we make sure that we cast your ballot. With the election, we've had some questions (like) if you voted already, can I change my ballot, and actually, you can by going to the polling location that you normally vote at and casting your ballot, and they'll remove your absentee ballot and reject it at that time."
If you are over 65 or have a disability, Hosemann said you are eligible to vote early at your circuit clerk's office through Saturday. Hosemann said he hopes to have 60 to 70 percent of eligible Mississippians vote Tuesday.