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Deadline is Saturday to cast votes absentee

With only days left to vote absentee ahead of next week’s municipal primary elections in Brookhaven, officials report voting rates are looking higher this year.

More than 175 people have voted absentee, according to records at the city clerk’s office. That includes ballots cast in person at the office and ballots returned by mail.

Many other absentee ballots have been mailed to voters but not yet received. If most of them are returned by the deadline, the absentee voting total could rise well above 200.

Saturday, May 4, is the last day to absentee vote in person. The clerk’s office will be open from 8 a.m. until noon.

Absentee ballots sent by mail to voters must be received back in the city clerk’s post office box by 5 p.m. Monday, May 6, Fairman said.

Based on what she’s seen so far this year, Deputy Clerk Marsha Fairman said absentee voting rates seem higher this year than in elections past.

Higher, but not unusually high, she said.

Absentee voting rates have garnered attention in other municipalities. Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has indicated via a press release his office will be conducting a review of absentee voting in some cities and towns. The review will be to ensure proper procedures were followed.

Brookhaven City Clerk Mike Jinks said he believes the lack of incumbents in the mayor’s race and Ward Five alderman race may be helping to drive turnout.

The primary elections are scheduled for May 7. In races where a single candidates fails to capture more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held May 21.

This will be the first city election utilizing Lincoln County’s electronic voting machines. County Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield, who’s working with Jinks and city election commissioners to run Brookhaven elections, will be holding poll worker training Thursday and Friday for precinct workers.

While Bairfield feels prepared for the elections, he fears many voters remain unaware that they may be in a new ward following recent city redistricting.

“I look for that to be the problem,” he said.

Election preparation has also furthered efforts to purge city voting rolls, which officials estimate contain many people that have died or moved away.

Voter cards have been mailed to every registered voter in Brookhaven, and Jinks estimated 700-800 voter cards have been returned by the Postal Service so far.

“I wouldn’t have been surprised if it had been more,” he said.

If a voter card is returned, Jinks said that voter will move to inactive on the rolls but will still be able to vote with proof of residency. If a voter remains on the inactive list through two federal elections, that voter’s name will move to the purge list.