Cleveland, Ruleville having no problems with absentee votes
by Rory Doyle
May 03, 2013 | 1183 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With Tuesday's municipal primary elections approaching, the Mississippi Secretary of State's office is carrying out a thorough review of absentee ballots.

The review comes on the heels of several complaints from municipal clerks, elected officials and citizens across the state regarding a high number of absentee ballots cast thus far.

"A high number of absentee ballots cast this early in the primary causes concern for our municipal clerks and our agency and may lead our citizens to question the integrity of their election,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann in a press release.

Locally, Cleveland and Ruleville are the only two cities holding primary elections, and both clerks reported that absentee ballots have not been a problem.

"Normally we don't get very many absentee ballots," said Ruleville City Clerk April Marks. "We only have about 15-20 and sometimes we don't get any.

"We haven’t had any problems with the secretary of state at all."

John Lindsey, Cleveland administrator and interim city clerk, also said Cleveland is problem-free.

"We've received 31 at my last count," said Lindsey. "We have no signs of a high quantity at this point and no problems to report."

Cleveland City Hall will be open from 8 a.m.-noon Saturday for those wishing to cast an absentee ballot.

According to the absentee voter application, to vote absentee, the registered voter “will be absent from the county of residence on Election Day, or unable to vote in person” due to specific reasons.”

Reasons for not being able to vote in person include, but are not limited to, being in military service, being out of the county or country, being hospitalized, being disabled or being 65 or over.

The secretary of state’s office has also received complaints from municipal clerks sayg that some individuals have allegedly been solicited to cast an absentee ballot.

"Where we suspect there is a possibility for voter fraud, we will be watching,” said Hosemann. “Anyone attempting to commit voter fraud, or any instance where we believe voter fraud is committed, will be reported immediately to the Attorney General and local district attorney.”

Penalties for violating the absentee voter laws are fines up to $5000 and five years in the state penitentiary.

Tuesday's primary election will be held from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and the general election will be held from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on June 7.