Keeping absentee ballots secure is a multistep process, officials say

Keeping absentee ballots secure is a multistep process, officials say

MARION COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - With coronavirus cases still rising across the Magnolia State, we may see an uptick in absentee ballots for the November election.

Only 19 days remain until election day, and due to COVID-19, there are new exceptions as to who can cast an absentee ballot.

But, many questions linger as to what happens to an absentee ballot after it is cast.

“Voters need to know that they can trust that their ballot is being handled properly and being counted on election night,” said Marion County Circuit Clerk Janette Nolan.

Nolan said it is a bit of a lengthy process.

“When a ballot comes back in through the mail, it is file stamped that moment,” said Nolan. “With the date of receipt...we receive it into the computer. We notate that that ballot has been received in. There’s also a paper log. The date is recorded on there when we receive that ballot back in, and it is immediately deposited into the sealed ballot box.”

Nolan said Marion County is sitting around 750 applications for absentee ballots. She said roughly 350 voters requested ballots in person and about 400 did through the mail.

However, she said Marion County has about a 50% return rate to the mail-in requests, but that’s not expected to last as the election approaches.

“In past elections, we always know that the last 10 days is a huge push for absentee voting,” said Nolan. “And, because you always have those last minute folks that are getting ready to go back to work offshore or pipeline, then, of course, those that they’ve just realized they’re not going to be here on election day, the students that are coming there’s going to be a big push, and I would expect to see us at least double our numbers.”

Absentee ballots can be cast at each county circuit clerk’s office every Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday, Oct. 24, from 8 a.m. to noon and on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If a voter is mailing in an absentee ballot, it must be postmarked by Nov. 3 to be counted.

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