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Justice: State's military, overseas voting law conflicts with UOCAVA

Delbert Hosemann

Delbert Hosemann

JACKSON — The Secretary of State’s Office has been notified by the U.S. Department of Justice that current state law conflicts with federal military and overseas voting laws.

Recent changes to the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) require states to send absentee ballots to military and overseas voters who request them at least 45 days before an election for federal office. State law provides only 21 days between a primary election and a primary run-off election.

Gov. Phil Bryant said, “The State is working to ensure that military voters have the opportunity to make their voices heard in the electoral process while they are away from home.”

“Rather than be sued by the federal government for failing to comply with federal law, the State Board of Election Commissioners have decided to provide military voters with both their primary and primary run-off ballot when electronically transmitting overseas absentee ballots,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. “Mississippi is a leading state in allowing electronic voting for the military, and I intend to keep it that way.”

Military and overseas voters will rank the candidates of their choice for the primary run-off ballot, in a so-called “ranked choice” ballot. When the primary run-off ballot is returned to the Circuit Clerk’s Office with the primary election ballot, it will be placed in a separate absentee ballot envelope in the event there is a primary run-off election.

Only nine states are slated to hold a primary run-off election in the 2014 federal election cycle. Of the nine states, four hold their primary run-off election less than 45 days after the primary — Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and South Carolina. Alabama, Arkansas and South Carolina also use a ranking-style ballot.

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