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Mississippians are expected to vote in record numbers on Tuesday, and already have set absentee voting records for this election, typically a bellwether for in-person turnout.
Here are some tips and rules for Mississippi voters as they prepare to vote:
• Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. statewide. State law says anyone in line by 7 p.m. must be allowed to vote even if polls are closing.
• To make sure you know where to vote, go to the secretary of state’s Polling Place Locator.
• Secretary of State Michael Watson said people wanting to avoid long lines, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, should avoid going to the polls in the early morning, during lunch, or after 5 p.m.
• Mississippi voters are not under a mask mandate, although they are urged to wear them and most precincts will have them available for voters. Both Watson and Gov. Tate Reeves say such a mandate would be unconstitutional infringement on voting rights, although the federal district court that covers Mississippi has ruled it would not be unconstitutional.
• You may be asked by poll managers to step six feet back and briefly pull down your mask so that your identity can be verified.
• Poll workers will be wearing masks, and additional workers have been added at many precincts to ensure social distancing guidelines and to ensure the polls and the voting machines are continuously sanitized.
• Voters must have a government-issued photo identification. But those without an ID are allowed to vote, and they will have five days to go to their county circuit clerk’s office to provide proof of their identification. People needing to vote curbside because they believe they might have COVID-19 or because of other issues should call their local circuit clerk before voting. Telephone numbers for circuit clerks can be found on the secretary of state’s web page.
• People who for whatever reason are not on the poll books can request to vote by affidavit and they also will have five days to resolve issues surrounding why they were not on the poll books.
• A new rule issued by Watson says curbside voting must be available for anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19, including coughing, headaches, fever, sore throat and loss of taste or smell.
• Another new rule says election officials must notify a voter about problems with their signature on an absentee ballot, and must give the voter a chance to fix the problem. The voters must be offered an “absentee cure form” by email, mail or fax within one business day, and the voter has 10 days to correct the problem.
• People with questions about where they vote can visit the polling place locator or Y’all Vote on the secretary of state’s web page. The office also has a telephone line at 1-800-829-6786 to answer elections-related questions. County circuit clerks also can answer questions about the election.
• Rules prevent people from wearing campaign-related clothes or caps into the polling place. And people campaigning for a person or issue on the ballot must remain 150 feet from the polling place. Watson said this rule applies only to signage or clothing pertaining to “anything that’s on the ballot,” but would not prohibit other messaging not directly up for a vote. So any candidate-specific gear like MAGA or Biden hats are prohibited, but generic “Black Lives Matter” T-shirts are permitted.