Clerks report upsurge in region’s absentee voting

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Absentee voting in Northeast Mississippi appears higher than the state’s as a whole, which could mean a strong turnout in today’s national election, say circuit clerks across the region.
“We even had some people calling Monday to try to vote absentee,” said Pam Keeton, deputy clerk in Prentiss County.
Saturday was the deadline to vote absentee in the clerk’s office.
Across the U.S. today, voters will choose candidates for president, U.S. Senate, House and other offices.
Experienced election officials say absentee voting numbers are a good indicator of what election day will be like.
“We expect a strong turnout,” Phyllis Stanford, Union County’s circuit clerk, said Monday.
In four hours Saturday, 169 absentee votes were cast to bring the Lee County total to 2,100 – more than four years ago.
More young people casting ballots was the reason, a deputy clerk noted.
Random checks with clerks’ offices across north Mississippi showed much the same from DeSoto County to Monroe County.
“It’s been very heavy,” said Judy Butler, Monroe County’s circuit clerk, on Monday.
As of Friday, some 4.3 percent of Mississippi’s registered voters statewide cast absentee ballots, said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. That’s only about half the number in 2008’s general election, he said.
Keeton said several dozen would-be voters on Monday were told to come back today.
“It’s really all that’s left for them to do,” she said.
Monday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for mail-in absentee ballots to be received at the clerk’s office. For most military voters, the deadline is 7 tonight.
Overnight showers were expected to turn into sunny skies, but cool temperatures were likely to hang on throughout the region.
Four years ago, just shy of 1.3 million Mississippians turned out for the presidential election.
National election predictors expect a majority of Mississippians to vote for Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney over incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama, giving the state’s six electoral votes to Romney.
Four years ago, GOP nominee John McCain garnered 56.2 percent of the state vote, compared to 43 percent for Obama.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com