- Associated Press - Sunday, September 27, 2020

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - An official in Mississippi’s largest county says absentee ballots are kept in a locked vault after they are filled out and returned.

Hinds County Circuit Clerk Zack Wallace told WAPT-TV that completed ballots remain in sealed envelopes and are sorted by precinct.

“That’s something we’re doing on a daily basis - a roll call of all the ballots that we have to make sure there’s nothing misplaced or nothing is out of place,” Wallace said.

Wallace said the ballots are stored in a locked vault next to his office. The process is similar at circuit clerks’ offices around the state.

Mississippi does not allow widespread early voting. Instead, state law says absentee voting is available to anyone 65 or older, or for voters of any age who are permanently disabled or will be out of their home county on Election Day. People who have to work on Election Day when polls are open also are allowed to vote absentee.

Legislators tweaked the law this year with provisions that expire at the end of 2020. Those allow absentee voting by someone with a temporary or permanent disability that may include “a physician-imposed quarantine due to COVID-19” or by a person who is “caring for a dependent that is under a physician-imposed quarantine due to COVID-19.”

The general election ballot in Mississippi this year has the presidential race, one U.S. Senate race, a U.S. House race in each of the four districts and some state Supreme Court races. It also has two ballot measures dealing with medical marijuana and one that would eliminate an electoral college-type requirement in deciding races for governor and other statewide offices. Mississippi voters will also vote yes or no on a proposed new state flag that features a magnolia and the phrase, “In God We Trust.”

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