A total of 15,579 Coahoma County residents are registered to vote.
That is 90.54 percent of the voter registration numbers from 2018 rolls when 17,207 Coahoma County residents were registered to vote and while the state says any number above 91 percent is a good reason for local election commissions to look at purging the roll, local officials feel differently.
“That’s a pretty good number,” said Coahoma County circuit clerk Demetria Jackson. “We have 24,000 people in Coahoma County so we have a ways to go, but that’s a good number. In my opinion, it is.”
The U.S. Census bureau estimated the population of Coahoma County at 22,124 as of July 1, 2019.
Clarksdale No. 5 was the local precinct with the most total votes in November’s Presidential Election at 1,277. Cagle Crossing had the least votes at 56. There are 18 local voter precincts.
The voter rolls were purged statewide after newly elected secretary of state Michael Watson’s office took an 82-county tour in Mississippi to discuss with election commissions and circuit clerks the best way to maintain an accurate voter roll.
Humphreys County leads the state with registered voters at 107.26 percent of the voting age population estimate. Greene County is the lowest at 70.39 percent.
“The Election Commissioners are the ones that send out confirmation cards to voters to verify if they actually still live at an address or not,” Jackson said. “If those confirmation cards don’t come back, that’s a way to purge the rolls. If they do come back, the voter puts maybe a move to another address in town or maybe they move to another state or whatever. That’s a way of maintaining the voter rolls – called voter maintenance.”
Coahoma County Election Commissioners are:
Dist. 1 – JoAnn Gates.
Dist. 2 – Andrew Thompson (chairman)
Dist. 3 – Mary Ann Smith
Dist. 4 – Roosevelt Noah
Dist. 5 – Brenda Mitchell
The Secretary of State’s office said last week county election commissioners are trained each year on voter roll maintenance.
“They are to maintain the voter roll by purging voters who have died, been convicted of a disenfranchising crime, been declared mentally incompetent, or requested removal from the voter roll,” said Kendra James, spokesman for Secretary of State Michael Watson.
“Our office has imports from the Department of Health and Vital Statistics, which show voters who have been issued a death certificate, and imports from the Administrative Office of Courts for voters who have been convicted of a disenfranchising crime,” she explained. “While the death certificates are accurate, the election commissioners are trained to obtain a copy of a sentencing/conviction order before purging a voter for a disenfranchising crime.”
James said election commissioners should follow the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) for purging voters who have possibly moved away from the county.
“They should use reliable sources of information to confirm this information and mail those voters who have moved (or possibly moved) a confirmation card, which asks the voter to confirm he/she still lives at the address on file or update the voter’s address if the voter has moved,” said James. “Voters are responsible for updating their addresses each time the voter moves, which may require reregistering to vote in a new county or new state.”
Jackson said the confirmation cards are sent out several times a year since the Coahoma County Election Commission meets monthly. She added maintaining voter rolls as much as possible helps their accuracy.
“With upcoming elections, they have to do a voter roll maintenance however many days before an election – 45 to 90 days before an election, confirmation cards,” Jackson said.
Jackson said election commissioners send out the confirmation cards to everyone in their district whether or not one of the elections coming up is in that area. Election commissioners are in the same districts as the Coahoma County Board of Supervisors.
“Secretary of State Michael Watson, they send out those cards statewide to all registered voters,” Jackson said. “Of course, some of those cards have come back not found, people have moved or whatever the case may be. Those cards were returned to this office and they’re back there processing those as we speak.”
Anyone who does not send back a confirmation card is taken off the voter roll.
“This year, we’ve had more people to come in to update their addresses, to let us know they’ve moved from Pecan Street to Lynn Street or from Lynn Street over to Sasse,” Jackson said. “We’ve had more to come in this year because of this election to update their voter address.
“COVID was a factor because it drove people in here (circuit clerk’s office) to absentee vote – those who were eligible to absentee vote. And it drove people to the polls on Election Day. That was a factor. People wanted to get out because of the Presidential Election.”
Jackson said, in her personal opinion, if not for the COVID pandemic, the voter roll would have dropped even more than it did. She also said local races drove people to come to the polls.
“All we do is encourage people to vote, to get registered,” Jackson said. “We can’t make them. Some people come in registered to vote and they don’t even go to the polls and vote. That’s something we don’t have any control over. All we do is encourage people to get out and vote.”