Jackson County Circuit Clerk Bart Buchanan sits at his desk, hard at work, as paperwork covers it. It’s election season, and due to the coronavirus pandemic, more and more people are voting absentee this year.
“It’s wide open,” said Buchanan. “Since the primary runoff, it hasn’t slowed down.”
Buchanan said this year is a big election with the president, but with COVID hitting, it has only magnified.
“Each day, we get an influx of absentee applications,” he said. “We’ve processed over 450 so far.”
Buchanan said there is also a steady stream of people coming in each day to vote.
“I project we will do close to 1,000 absentees for the general election,” said Buchanan.
By comparison, 192 absentee applications were processed during the primary in March and 316 in the runoff primary.
Buchanan said his office won’t accept applications after Oct. 29. Absentee ballots have to be postmarked by Nov. 2.
Buchanan was able to hire two part time employees through the CARES Act to help with absentee voting, one of which is former Circuit Clerk Donna Barksdale.
“Donna came out of retirement to help,” said Buchanan. “We are so thankful she did. If not for the extra help, our heads would be under water.”
Statewide, Secretary of State John Merrill said almost 75,000 absentee ballots have been requested and almost 16,000 have been successfully returned for the General Election.
Due to the declared states of emergency, any qualified voter who determines it is impossible or unreasonable to vote at their polling place shall be eligible to check the box on the absentee ballot application that is most applicable to that individual. In the case none of the boxes are appropriate, voters can check the box which reads as follows:
“I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls. [ID REQUIRED]”
For the Nov. 3 General Election, the deadline to register to vote is Monday, Oct. 19, the deadline to submit an absentee ballot application is Thursday, Oct. 29, the deadline to return an absentee ballot to the Absentee Election Manager is the close of business Monday, Nov. 2, and the last day to postmark an absentee ballot is Monday, Nov. 2.
Voters who are eligible to vote pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Absentee Voting Act will have until Tuesday, November 3 to postmark an absentee ballot.
Voters concerned about COVID-19 are encouraged to select the box on the affidavit, which accompanies the absentee ballot, which reads as follows:
“I am physically incapacitated and will not be able to vote in person on election day.”