Columbus election officials this morning began processing 158 affidavit ballots for Tuesday’s general election for municipal offices.
The mayor’s race most assuredly hangs in the balance. Independent challenger Keith Gaskin finished election day with a 66-vote lead over incumbent mayor Robert Smith, a Democrat. Montrell Coburn, another independent in the race, garnered only 67 votes.
Election officials can accept or reject affidavits, and candidates have the right to challenge individual ballots before they are opened and counted.
Election officials will process each ballot individually, confirming a voter’s residence and eligibility, and contacting the voter if necessary. Representatives with the Secretary of State’s and Lowndes County Circuit Clerk’s offices are also present for the count.
Affidavit ballots 101
Tuesday’s municipal election in Columbus saw a larger than normal number of affidavit ballots cast. An affidavit ballot is a paper ballot that is cast on election day for one of the following reasons:
■ Voter doesn’t have proper ID
■ Voter’s name doesn’t appear in the poll book
■ Voter who records show has already voted
■ Voter’s ID doesn’t match the name on the poll book
■ Photo on voter’s ID doesn’t look like the voter
The voter writes down their contact information, and the voter and poll manager sign the ballot envelope. The voter signs a receipt book for affidavit voters and then proceeds to mark their ballot. The ballot is then placed in the sealed ballot box by the voter.
The voter must be presented with written instructions on how to determine whether their vote was counted and why. If the voter voted with an affidavit ballot due to lack of ID, they must be given written instructions that inform them of their ability to show proof of ID at the registrar’s office within five business days to ensure their vote is recorded.
When determining whether to accept an affidavit ballot, election officials compare the information on the voter roll to other records available to them. Reasons for rejecting a ballot include:
■ Voter is not registered in the municipality
■ Failure of the voter and poll manager to sign the ballot envelope
■ Voter voting in the wrong precinct
For more information, call City of Columbus Registrar Brenda Williams — 662-328-2381
Sources: 2021 Mississippi Municipal Elections Handbook and Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-573