Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The only stupid question about voting is the one you don't get answered before Nov. 6. With a little help from the League of Women Voters of Mississippi's Web site, here are a few questions and answers to give you a hand.
Am I eligible to vote?
Voters in the Mississippi must be 18 years old on or before Election Day, U.S. citizens and registered to vote in their county of residence at least 30 days before the election. If you have been convicted of certain felonies or have been declared mentally incompetent by a court, you may be ineligible. If you haven't registered by now, you are not eligible to vote on Nov. 6.
When is Election Day, and what time should I vote?
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6, with polls open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. If you are inside the polling place at 7 p.m., you must be allowed to vote. To avoid lines, go during off hours, 10-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3 p.m.
Where do I vote?
Your voter registration card shows your precinct number and an address for voting, along with all of your voting districts. If you've misplaced your card, ask a neighbor where to vote, or go to the Vote 411 Web site (vote411.org) and click on Polling Place Locator. You can also call the clerk's office in your city or county: in the City of Jackson, call 601-968-1035; in Hinds County, 601-968-6641; in Madison County, 601-352-2049; in Rankin County, 601-825-1466.
Do I have to vote in the county where I'm registered to vote on Election Day?
Yes, but most people who can't get to their home county on Election Day can vote by absentee ballot. The deadline for receipt of absentee ballots is Monday, Nov. 5. You can vote in the Circuit Clerk's office in your county or city of residence until noon on Saturday, Nov. 3, if you have not mailed your absentee ballot on time. The rules for absentee voting are lengthy, so check with your county voter registrar for more information.
Do I need my voter registration card or other I.D. to vote?
If you registered by mail since the last election, be prepared to show identification with your name and address. This could be your Mississippi driver's license, a utility bill, a paycheck, bank statement or other government document.
Can I vote for candidates of different parties?
Yes. You can cross party lines to vote for candidates from any party.
Do I have to vote in every race on the ballot?
No. Your vote for each candidate will be counted independently.
What if I have a problem or question at the polls?
If you need help, ask for the poll manager. If that person can't resolve your issue, call the League of Women Voter hotline at 601-355-7495, the Mississippi Secretary of State's Office election hotline at 800-829-6786 or Mississippi Protection and Advocacy at 800-772-4057.
Is there any way to preview the new touch-screen voting machines?
Yes. Go to the Touch and Vote Web site for an interactive demonstration.
I'm disabled. Can I get assistance voting?
Yes. You can register for the voter-disabled list and you will automatically receive an absentee ballot. If you're not on the list and are physically unable to get inside the polling place, you have the right to vote at curbside with the assistance of the election manager. Also, some voting machines provide assistance to blind and visually impaired people. You can also ask for assistance if you cannot read or write. See the League of Women Voters Web site for more information.
Where can I get a sample ballot?
A sample ballot for state-wide and Mississippi Legislative offices is available from the Mississippi Secretary of State's Web site. For sample ballots that include county races in Hinds County, go to co.hinds.ms.us/pgs/index.asp. In Madison or Rankin counties, contact your county circuit clerk. You can take your sample ballot with you to the polls, but you must keep it in your pocket until you enter the voting booth.
Where can I get information about the candidates?
Read and ask questions. Read the papers, read the candidates' Web sites, if they have one, read their election materials, go hear their speeches and ask them questions.