Absentee ballots down for Tuesday’s runoff, could mean fewer voters than on Aug. 6

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Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For America

Hinds County residents cast their votes at Eudora Welty Library during Mississippi’s Primary Election Day, Tuesday, August 6, 2019.

Fewer Mississippians have voted absentee for Tuesday’s runoff election than did for the Aug. 6 Republican and Democratic primaries.

Based on the fewer number of absentee ballots requested and returned, it is likely that fewer people will go to the polls for Tuesday’s runoff elections than did for the primaries. There is often a correlation between the number of people voting absentee and the overall turnout.

For instance, on Aug. 6 there were 46,636 absentee ballots requested and 42,858 returned or voted, according to numbers provided by the office of Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

In the 2015 election, 41,392 absentee ballots were requested and 37,318 were returned.

The turnout on Aug. 6 was about 130,000 votes more than the turnout in the 2015 Republican and Democratic primaries or 685,470 in 2019 compared to 556,057 in 2015. There are 1.8 mission registered voters in Mississippi.

As of late Monday, 24,347 absent votes had been received – about 18,500 less than were received on Aug. 6.

People who are going to be out of town on Election Day and those over the age of 65 can vote absentee under Mississippi law. People can vote absentee by mail-in ballot or by casting a vote in their county circuit clerk’s office prior to noon the Saturday before the election.

Republicans will return to the polls Tuesday to select a gubernatorial nominee between Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr.

In addition, Treasurer Lynn Fitch and Madison County attorney Andy Taggart will be vying for the open seat of attorney general on the Republican side.

John Caldwell of DeSoto County and Geoffrey Yoste of Lafayette County are running in the Republican primary runoff for the open transportation commissioner seat for the Northern District.

In addition, on the Republican ballot will be five state Senate runoffs and six House elections. On the Democratic ballot will be four Senate runoffs and two House runoffs.

In the Central District, Jackson City Council member De’Keither Stamps and Dorothy “Dot” Benford of Jackson will be in the Democratic Party runoff for the open public service commissioner post.

The top two vote-getters advance to the runoff if no candidate garners a majority vote in the first primary.

People who voted on Aug. 6 can only vote Tuesday in the same party primary they voted in on Aug. 6. But people who did not vote on Aug. 6 can vote in the primary of their choice Tuesday.

Normally, fewer people return to the polls for runoff elections, though, that was not the case for the 2014 Republican runoff for the U.S. Senate between incumbent Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel. In that election, 382,197 voted in the runoff – or almost 63,000 more than voted in the first primary.