County awaiting reprinted ballots for absentee vote

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Lincoln County Circuit Clerk’s Officewill be open the next two Saturdays for absentee voting, butreprinted ballots have not been received yet.

    Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Terry Lynn Watkins said Wednesdayafternoon she will find out today when reprinted ballots will shipfrom the printer. She hopes they will ship today or Friday.

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    On Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, the circuit clerk’s office will be open from8 a.m. until noon for absentee voting. By law, circuit clerks’offices are required to be open the two Saturdays before anelection, which this year occurs Nov. 8.

    Last week Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann ordered paper ballotsreprinted after he decided at the attorney general’s prompting toadd fiscal analysis for each of the three ballot initiatives. Theballot initiatives propose state constitutional amendmentsconcerning the origin of life, state powers of eminent domain andvoter identification.

    Paper ballots are used for absentee voting, affidavit ballots onElection Day and as backups should electronic machinesmalfunction.

    Surrounding counties’ election officials reported mixed results onthe reprinted ballot issue.

    Franklin County Circuit Clerk Millie Thornton said reprintedballots arrived at her office early this week and were put into usethe same day. Copiah County officials also said reprinted ballotshave arrived and are in use.

    The Lawrence County Circuit Clerk’s office said reprints have notarrived but are hoped to ship on Friday.

    Until the reprinted ballots arrive in Lincoln County, Watkins’office is printing corrected ballots posted to the Internet forthose voting absentee in the circuit clerk’s office.

    However, the ballots printed in the office differ fromprofessionally printed ballots. The latter can be scanned andcounted by a machine on election night while the former cannot.

    Ballots that cannot be machine-counted must be hand-counted ortransferred to a scannable ballot on election night. Watkins saidthat process could delay counting votes.

    As of Wednesday afternoon, Watkins said 10 to 20 absentee ballotshave been cast that will require hand counting. That is out of atotal of 480 absentee votes recorded by the circuit clerk’soffice.

    “That is pretty good for a general election with state and countycandidates,” Watkins said.

    In addition to concerns about a lengthy vote-counting process,Watkins is also concerned about long voting lines.

    Watkins encouraged all voters to read the full text of the threeballot initiatives prior to voting on Nov. 8.

    “If people wait to read the initiatives until they go to vote itcould really slow the voting down,” Watkins said.

    The text of the initiatives as they will appear on the ballot, aswell as brochures with further information on them, can be found bygoing to the secretary of state’s website at