Former Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman said a couple of years ago he found it “troubling” that absentee voting made up 10 percent of the ballots in 20 counties across the state.
In the 2012 presidential election, the average percentage of absentee ballots cast, as reported by the counties to the Statewide Election Management System, was two percent. In the 2016 presidential election, the average was six percent.
In 2016 Hosemann said the rate was nearly 14 percent in Noxubee County, 11 percent in Quitman County, eight percent in Claiborne County, seven percent in Tallahatchie County and six percent in Benton County.
You see the trend and some of those numbers fall a little too close to home.
The average number of absentee ballots in any election is 5 to 6 percent.
Your Clarksdale Press Register has repeatedly said the election process must be squeaky-clean, completely fair and always open to public scrutiny. This community must work very hard to make sure every ballot counts and that no one – no one – is allowed to tarnish the sanctity of local elections.
We will be the first to champion Coahoma County Circuit Clerk Demetria Jackson and expect her and her staff to watch our election process closely. We also expect her to contact the powers-that-be if she suspects something under-handed is being done by any political party or any individual.
Under Mississippi law, only those who are elderly, disabled or out of the county on election day can cast absentee ballots. Yes, that has been bent a little this year with affidavit voting in this COVID-19 world.
We find it disturbing that many grin and wink as these laws are blatantly broken. Evil people always find a way to pervert the system.
One news report said, in a 2016 congressional race, one person in Lowndes County signed 75 absentee ballots as a witness.
We have a new Secretary of State in Michael Watson and we urge him to watch the Delta closely. We urge him to punish to the fullest extent of the law anyone found tampering with our election process.
We also urge our community to contact Watson’s office if they ever have a legitimate concern about how a ballot is handled. The number to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Election Hotline is 1-800-829-6786.
Tampering with the election process is a serious crime and one that rightly deserves the felony charges, stiff fines and jail terms demanded of those who violate it.