BY PHILIP MOULDEN
Lee County election officials this week urged voters to correct their mailing addresses and registrations if they have moved or changed their names at any time in the past and failed to notify the county circuit clerk's office.
The circuit clerk is scheduled to send out almost 50,000 replacement registration cards next month and are concerned that many may not reach their intended targets. Every voter will face at least minor changes in voting districts following the 2000 census and many may now be living in different precincts.
“We're in the process of redistricting the whole county as far as justice court districts are concerned,” Circuit Clerk Joyce Loftin noted, pointing out a new district has been added for both justice court and constable elections.
In addition, some significant changes have been made in county supervisors districts and state Senate and House districts. But notification of those changes will do no good if registration cards are sent to the wrong addresses, officials said.
As of Thursday, there were 48,743 registered voters in Lee County. New registration cards for all will start going into the mail the first week of April.
“This will give them (voters with changes) almost a month to come in and change addresses, or their (cards) will be returned,” Deputy Circuit Clerk Carol Horton said. “Following redistricting (in the 1990s), we had boxes full returned.”
Wasted cards mean wasted taxpayers' dollars, she added.
Any voter who has registered in Lee County who does not receive a card by May 1 should contact the circuit clerk's office.
Failure to make address and name changes could mean people going to a polling places in the August primaries or November general election would have to cast time-consuming affidavit ballots to have their say in the outcome.
“We need to have the right addresses so (voters) won't be wasting their time and holding up others at the polling places,” Loftin said. “They need to be sure they're going to the proper (voting) places. If we're going to the trouble and expense to send (cards) out, I wish we could get them to the right people.”
Voters who have moved to Lee County from other Mississippi counties or from other states must change their registrations at the circuit clerk's office if they expect to vote. Registration deadlines fall 30 days prior to election day.
Those who are physically impaired or for other reasons can't get to the circuit clerk's office in the Lee County Justice Center may request a change of address form by telephone. The changes can then be made by mail.
The circuit clerk's office can be reached at 841-9024 or 841-9025.