One absentee ballot mistake gets fix in Mississippi with new rule

One absentee ballot mistake gets fix in Mississippi with new rule

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - There are several minor issues that can invalidate an absentee ballot. The instructions have to be followed closely to ensure it’s a valid ballot, but there’s one mistake that will now have a fix.

Several civil rights groups argue Mississippi’s absentee voting process needs to be easier. They filed a federal lawsuit about it in August. Many of their requests weren’t met but one was.

“Signature mismatch is really just an issue for mail-in ballots," said Leslie Faith Jones, Southern Poverty Law Center Staff Attorney. "Signatures on your ballot application have to match the signatures on the actual ballot that’s turned in.”

In the past, a signature mismatch would make the ballot invalid and the voter wouldn’t know their vote wasn’t counted.

“There are many reasons why signatures may not look exactly the same," described Jones. "For age reasons. But also for young people who don’t sign their name. They don’t handwrite. We swipe and push buttons all the time. Their signature is more susceptible even to not always appearing exactly the same.”

Now, the Secretary of State’s office has created a rule that allows for those voters to be notified and given an opportunity to fix or “cure” it with an “Absentee Cure Form” within 10 calendar days of the election. Voters say they’re glad to hear about the change.

“It is a wonderful idea," said Nikita Stapleton Bennett. "I thought we were doing that already. I did not know that they just tossed out your ballot if you did not know.”

“I think that, as a citizen, we should have the right to do that,” noted Jill Brewer. “Voting is extremely important. This year especially.”

Even for those going to cast an absentee in person, it’s a tedious process.

“We have over 10,000 absentee votes that have come in so far, and that don’t actually mean that all of those votes will be counted," said Hinds County Circuit Clerk Zach Wallace. "Hopefully we do not have any kind of signature mishaps, any rejections based on paperwork not notarized or witnessed.”

Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center say they’ll keep pushing for even more of the absentee process to be streamlined and made easier to fix minor mistakes.

Copyright 2020 WLBT. All rights reserved.