Sara Deloach. Patricia Brooks. Judy Lewis. Candidates in Columbus and Lowndes County the past 40-plus years likely know at least one, if not all, of these women and might have used their services. The three, and others, have built a loyal among elderly and residents with disabilities for whom they provide witness signatures on absentee ballots — election after election. State law allows voters who are 65 and older, or will otherwise be unavailable to vote on election day, to cast absentees through the mail or in person at a city registrar’s office for municipal elections or circuit clerk’s office for all others. Most absentees must be signed and witnessed by a notary public or court clerk. But in cases where voters are illiterate or temporarily or permanently disabled, anyone at least 18 years old can provide a witness signature on their mail-in absentee ballots.
That’s where these women pick up the slack by gathering absentee votes, either as volunteers or as paid agents for a candidate.
“I go to people I’ve been going to for years,” said Deloach, noting she has helped voters with absentees for 45 years. “I know them. They know me. I just go out and assist them on making sure they cast a legal, valid absentee ballot. … When I go out and help them, they know their vote’s going to be counted.”
Their efforts can change an election.
Full Article: Vigorous absentee voting can sway Mississippi elections.