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Early Voting Passes House, Medicaid Expansion Efforts Continue; Vouchers Die: #MSLeg Roundup

All registered Mississippi voters could be able to cast a ballot up to 15 days before an election, including two Saturdays, under an early-voting bill the Mississippi Senate passed on March 12.

“Our state is one of only three in the nation not to offer in-person early voting, and it is time we change that,” Sen. Jeremy England, the bill’s Republican author, wrote in a March 4, 2024, op-ed for Magnolia Tribune. “This proposal can ensure Mississippians who are busy with work, school, or family commitments, as well as seniors, people with disabilities, and voters who live in rural areas will be able to cast their ballot on their schedule.”

The bill would end in-person absentee voting, a limited option that only some voters qualify for, in favor of the new universal early-voting option. Mail-in absentee voting would still be an option for some people, but the new bill would require any mailed-in votes to arrive by 7 p.m. on Election Day to be counted. A pandemic-era 2020 law, which state Republicans are challenging in court, allowed ballots to be counted if they arrived up to five business days after an election.

England told the Mississippi Free Press in an interview on March 12 that replacing in-person absentee voting with 15 days of early voting would “add to the integrity of” Mississippi’s elections. During the 2020 election, former President Donald Trump baselessly claimed that Democrats used early voting to “rig elections.” Those claims led to a deficit in Republicans voting early in states that offered it compared to Democrats. Since then, national Republicans—including Trump—have encouraged Republicans to vote early.

Under the proposal, voters would be able to cast a ballot until noon on the Saturday before the election, with extended hours during the last full week.

The GOP-led Senate passed the bill in a bipartisan 44-8 vote, with all no votes coming from Republicans. The Mississippi House must also approve the bill before it can go to Gov. Tate Reeves’ desk. If that happened, the governor could either sign the bill, allow it to become law on a deadline without

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