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Hundreds of Warren County voters have already voted absentee

With the presidential election a month away, the Warren County Circuit Clerk’s office is seeing an increase in voter registration and absentee voting, Clerk Jan Daigre said.

“We started absentee voting in the clerk’s office last Monday since I’ve been in office, I don’t think we’ve ever had one voter the first day of absentee voting. After eight days yesterday, we had 451 people who have walked in my office to vote,” Daigre said. “That doesn’t We’ve also had an unbelievable amount of (voter) registration.”

When deputy clerks arrived for work Sept. 21, she said, people were waiting to get in her office.

“I’ve just never seen this many (in her) office,” she said. “We have mailed out almost 500 ballots to people at home or working out of state. The total number of absentee votes we had the last presidential election was 1,778; with the numbers we had after the eight days, I don’t have a clue what we’re going to have.”

Daigre discussed several topics during a recent presentation to the Port City Kiwanis Club, including absentee voting and changes in the state law regarding the election.

She said people have come to her office asking about early voting, which the state election code does not allow.

“It is a battle every day with people who want to vote (absentee) and they don’t have a reason,” Daigre said. “You have to have a reason to absentee vote.”

Those reasons, she said, include poll workers who are not going to be able to get to their precinct on Election Day, people age 65 and older or who are disabled.

Fear of catching COVID-19 is not a reason to vote absentee, Daigre said, adding anyone seeking to vote absentee because of COVID-19 must have a written letter from a doctor stating the individual has a medical condition that makes them susceptible to catching the disease.

People eligible to vote absentee can vote at the clerk’s office or have a ballot mailed to them but Daigre said the voter will have to get the ballot notarized before sending it back.

“We really try to talk people into coming into the office (to vote),” she said.

Daigre said the state’s election laws have changed the way the absentee ballots are processed and counted.

Before this election, she said, absentee ballots were taken in a sealed bag to the respective precincts on Election Day, where they were reviewed and returned to the courthouse to be processed.

“This year, they will never leave my office, “ Daigre said. “A resolution committee comes in the day of the election and starts processing those absentee votes.”

When the final vote totals are announced at the end of the evening, she said, they will include the absentee votes.

Another law affects affidavit ballots, which are cast if a person does not have their voter ID or because they are not listed on the poll book at the precinct or requested an absentee ballot, claimed they did not receive it and voted at the precinct.

If someone votes by affidavit because they are not on the poll book or because they claim they did not receive an absentee ballot their driver’s license is copied and attached to the ballot.

The affidavit ballots are processed and verified by a resolution board the day after the election.

Under state law, if a person who does not have an ID, they vote by affidavit and has five days to bring their ID to the clerk’s office. The five-day extension, Daigre said, is not given to all people who cast an affidavit ballot.

“It could take us until Nov. 12 or Nov. 13 before we could certify the results,” she said.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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