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Mississippi

There are a wide variety of issue areas in which Mississippi has opportunities to improve voter access and continue on the progress made in 2020. These improvements will bring Mississippi one step closer to a more safe, efficient, and voter-friendly election process. As always, while policy is important, effective implementation is just as important.

As of 2021....

No Excuse Required

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote by mail

Online Mail Ballot Application

Online Mail Ballot Application

Apply for mail ballot online

Robust Ballot Return Option

Robust Ballot Return Option

U.S. mail, drop boxes, vote centers, and more

Prepaid Postage

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Accepts ballots postmarked by Election Day

Ballot Tracking

Ballot Tracking

Online method to check ballot status

Signature Verification

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Cure Process

Cure Process

Ability to correct issues so ballot can be counted

Preprocessing

Preprocessing

Election official may process ballot before Election Day

Opportunities

By passing legislation to allow voters to vote by mail ballot without needing an excuse, Mississippi can give their citizens the opportunity to vote in whichever manner they find safest and most convenient. Additionally, an increase in mail ballots often means a decrease in both lines and costs.
Ballot tracking software can be a very cost effective tool that increases voter confidence by allowing voters to track their ballot much like an Amazon package. It also adds a layer of data for the elections office who can also track the ballots to make sure they have reached their destination. Furthermore, these tools can be used as another modality to contact voters if there is a signature mismatch or deficiency on their return envelope. An expanded notification system helps keep rejection rates low and increases voter confidence and participation.
Creating an online portal for voters to register to vote and request an absentee ballot is not only convenient; if it feeds directly into the voter registration system, it can be an important step to help verify addresses, collect contact information and to remove administrative steps to process a large amount of applications. We encourage an integrated process that allows new voters to register, current voters to make changes to their address and make requests for ballots in a seamless manner.
Mississippi can reduce costs and increase voter convenience by expanding its permanent absentee option, where voters can sign up to automatically be sent an absentee ballot for each election without having to re-apply, to all residents. While this is likely a longer-term goal for the state, it should keep in mind that states experience significant savings by cutting down on the requests they need to process; on average, states save $1 for every request they no longer need to process.
Simplifying the return process for a ballot is just as important as simplifying the request process. Ensuring that voters do not need to make an extra trip to the post office is not only a voter-centric reform, but also a safety reform.
Offering secure drop boxes as another method for voters to return ballots are a cost-effective way to reduce strain on the postal system, and are sometimes a preferred method by voters who want an extra bit of reassurance that their ballot makes it to the elections office on time. We highly recommend including provisions to allow for ballots to be received at polling and vote centers, as well as other locations deemed necessary by the clerk.
Processing mail ballots to get them ready for counting before election day will help Mississippi get faster election results. Preliminary data also suggests that preprocessing helps avoid any blue or red shifts when there are differences in the partisan lean of mail vs. in person ballots, which could increase voter confidence in the results of elections.
We highly recommend creating vote centers, or polling locations where any voter in the county can vote. This is a way to streamline the system so over time, as the share of the vote cast by mail increases, counties can have fewer overall polling locations, while individual voters will have more voting location options.
We all know that it is important to make sure that the ballots received are being filled out by the individuals they were sent to, and Mississippi’s existing signature verification procedures already do just that. From an election security standpoint, witness requirements are far less secure than signature verification anyway. We recommend the state require only a signature, not a witness.

Recent Legislation

As of May 20, 2021

In 2020, Mississippi was the only state in the union to not offer either voting by mail without an excuse or any form of early voting. However, some progress was made: accepting ballots with election day postmarks was added as a new, permanent policy in 2020. Additionally, state officials decided to add a ballot cure process in 2020 to allow voters to correct errors they made on their ballots (such as if their signature does not match the one on file), but the bill to codify this failed in committee in 2021. No election-related bills passed in 2021.