Sample ballots sit on Bridgeforth’s TV stand. She has sample ballots around her house to educate potential voters.

With less than a week until Election Day, absentee voting records are being broken in Mississippi at the state level and in DeSoto County. 

As of Oct. 25, more than 169,000 ballots have been requested across the state, compared to the less than 111,000 requested in 2016. 

All 9,798 absentee ballots requested in DeSoto County have been sent and 8,498 of them have been received by the circuit clerk’s office. 

DeSoto County averages a voter turnout rate in election years higher than state and national levels, according to election records. Just over 8,000 of the more than 98,000 registered voters in the county voted absentee in 2016. 

Only people who are 65 and older, disabled or going to be away from their home area on Election Day are allowed to vote absentee in Mississippi.

A mail-in absentee ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and must be received by Nov. 10 to be counted. If there is an issue with an absentee ballot signature, the voter must be notified by election officials and given 10 days to correct it under a new rule adopted by Secretary of State Michael Watson.

Under another new rule from Watson, voters who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who have been exposed to the coronavirus must be given curbside voting options on election day. Watson implemented the new rules following the dismissal of a federal lawsuit seeking to expand early voting in Mississippi. 

The last day for in-person early voting is Oct. 31 and the circuit clerk’s office is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Masks will not be required at polling places on Election Day, but wearing them is highly recommended. Those worried about virus transmission at the polls can receive free masks and face shields at DeSoto County Health Department offices. 

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