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Senate sends Mississippi early voting measure to House 

The Senate on Tuesday passed bipartisan legislation that would allow no-excuse early voting in Mississippi for 15 days before Election Day, including the Saturday before. 

Eight Republicans in the 52-member, GOP majority chamber voted against Senate Bill 2580. The measure now heads to the House.

Senate Elections Chairman Jeremy England, a Republican from Vancleave, said during debate over the bill that the measure adds security to elections because it requires voters to cast a ballot in person at their county circuit clerk’s office. 

“I think this is a bill that number one our constituents are asking for,” England, a Republican from Vancleave, said. “This issue has been discussed with constituents and we’re one of only three states that don’t do this currently. This is, in my opinion, … a step in the right direction.” 

Mississippi allows in-person absentee voting before elections, but voters must meet criteria, such as being over 65 or disabled, or provide one of a handful of valid “excuses,” such as being out of town for work on election day and follow a long list of rules and procedures.

READ MORE: Early voting bill advances in Mississippi Senate

The new measure would allow “no-excuse” voting for all registered voters and eliminate in-person absentee voting. England also said the new system would replace in-person absentee voting, but that mail-in absentee ballots would still be accepted if a registered voter meets the legal criteria. 

If the new proposal becomes law, voters using the new early voting system would have to cast their ballots at their circuit clerk’s office and provide a valid photo ID as they currently have to do on Election Day. If passed, the new system would go into effect in 2026. 

Republican Sen. Jeff Tate of Meridian is a former elections commissioner, and he voted against the bill because he believed it was a “step in the wrong direction.” 

“We don’t need election season,” Tate said. “We need to appreciate the institution of Election Day voting.” 

The bill now heads to the House for consideration where its fate remains uncertain. House Speaker Jason White would likely refer the legislation to the House Elections Committee for, which is led by Rep. Noah Sanford, a Republican from Collins. 

England said he has communicated with Sanford about the legislation, and he doesn’t believe the House would reject the proposal. 

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