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Mississippi Secretary of State expects increased turnout at primaries

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Contrasting groups of supporters for the incumbent Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves and Democrat Brandon Presley wave their respective candidates' signs at the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss., Thursday, July 27, 2023.
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Today, Mississippians will cast their ballots in this year's primary elections, and the Secretary of State is assuring everyone of the legitimacy of the process.

Lacey Alexander

Mississippi Secretary of State expects increased turnout at primaries


Races for statewide office and legislative seats start today. The incumbent Governor and Lt. Governor are both facing primary challengers in their pursuit for re-election, though polls show both incumbents currently have more support.

Secretary of State Michael Watson believes that an increase in submitted absentee ballots could indicate a better turnout for this year's primary.

“2019 was roughly about 38,000… absentee [ballots].” he said. 
“And so [this year] we're… just north of 40,000. Total numbers, I believe, in the primary was somewhere around 760,000 total votes [in 2019]. So hopefully we'll surpass that number today.”

According to the Secretary of State’s office, there were nearly 2 million Mississippians registered to vote in July.

Lawmakers have made changes to voting policy since the last election. A bill recently passed by the legislature would take those who haven't voted in several years off of the voter roll. Lawmakers also passed a bill limiting who can collect absentee ballots, but the bill is being challenged in federal court. 

Watson says Mississippians have options if they are turned away from the polls in error.

“They can ask for an affidavit ballot,” he said. “If there was some issue with it being uploaded or something on the back end of the computer system that causes an error and the name was not on the voter roll, then that would be a provisional ballot, that ballot would be cast.”

Voters can find their precinct at the Y'all Vote website, and polls close at 7 p.m. 

For an overview of the contested races in this year’s primary, head to our 2023 primary election guide.