Preparing for Election Day

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – With Election Day quickly approaching, the Department of Justice has been working to protect the right to vote. Assistant United States Attorney Chris Wansley has been appointed as District Election Officer for the Southern District of Mississippi. Wansley will oversee the District’s handling of election fraud and voting rights abuses.

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office reads, “Federal law protects against such crimes as intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling voters, impersonating voters, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes, and marking ballots for voters against their wishes or without their input.”

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann also had some reminders for voters.

He says, “Our statutes are designed to balance preventing interference with the voting process with protecting the integrity of the election. The ultimate goal is safeguarding all Mississippians’ right to vote in a free and fair election.”

State law dictates that only local Election Commissioners and Circuit Clerks, designated poll workers, and designated federal and state observers can remain in the state’s election precincts on Election Day. There are 410 Election Commissioners representing Mississippi’s 82 counties. Officials estimate that there will be approximately 10,000 poll workers.

Members of the public are not allowed to be within 30 feet of a polling place, unless they are waiting in line to vote. Campaigners must be 150 feet away from a precinct.

Mississippi voters should also be aware that they are not permitted to show anyone their marked ballot. For more information on State election laws, you can visit the Secretary of State’s website or call the Elections Division at (601) 576-2550.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has launched a nationwide voter protection campaign, the Selma Initiative, to fight voter suppression. The idea is to target states that they consider critically vulnerable to voter suppression through door-to-door canvassing and phone calls.  The campaign has reached more than 6,000 African American precincts–those with an African American population at least 65%.

NAACP President and CEO Cornell W. Brooks says, “In every presidential election since 1965, we have battled to increase the turnout of black voters, and once again we are doing everything in our power to encourage black voters to get to the polls in record numbers.”

The Selma Initiative also seeks to serve as a resource for reporting voter obstruction. The NAACP has set up a Vote Monitor Hotline so voters can report efforts to prevent voters from casting their ballots.

The Secretary of State’s office reports that 112,529 absentee ballots have been requested as of this morning. That’s around 6,000 more than those requested in the 2012 General Election.

“If absentee ballot requests are any indication, Mississippians will be at the polls in full force.” Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said.

Census data estimates Mississippi’s eligible voting age population to be about 2.26 million. Over 1.86 million of those citizens are registered to vote in tomorrow’s election.

Polls will be open tomorrow, Tuesday, November 8 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Any voter in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to cast their ballot.

Polling place locations can be found by visiting the Secretary of State’s Polling Place Locator.

Voters are required to show photo identification at the polls. Information on acceptable photo IDs can be found here.


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