Mississippians will go to the polls today to decide several county, district and statewide offices, including the state’s next governor, with some of the votes being cast ahead of time on absentee ballots.

From 45 days before the election to the Saturday immediately prior to Election Day, citizens who couldn’t make it to the polls had the opportunity to vote absentee.

This year, absentee voting opened on Oct. 7, and ran until Saturday. The Mississippi Secretary of State’s website lists age, health, work demands, temporary relocation for educational purposes or affiliation with the U.S. Armed Forces as reasons for a voter to be eligible to vote absentee.

Across the Golden Triangle, absentee numbers have been reported.

In Oktibbeha County, 819 of the county’s 28,217 registered voters cast their ballots early. Deputy Circuit Clerk for Elections Sheryl Elmore said the figure was approximately 100 more voted absentee voters than in the last statewide election four years ago.

Elmore said the increase possibly was related to an increase in population in the county. Several Oktibbeha County races remain contested including all but one seat on the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors.

Elmore said there was a possibility of a high turnout, with many high-profile races on the ballot.

“People are talking about like a 40% turnout tomorrow,” Elmore said Monday. “Some of the commissioners are saying a 40-45% is what they’re predicting.”

In Clay County, the office of Circuit Clerk Bob Harrell reported that 546 voters of the county’s 13,987-strong electorate cast absentee ballots. The number is the lowest of the three Golden Triangle counties in both number of absentee voters and size of electorate.

The only contested countywide race on the Clay County ballot, with all being settled in the August primaries, is the race for county tax assessor.

Lowndes County reported 1,062 absentee votes, the largest number of the three counties. The county also has the largest electorate with 41,000 registered voters.

Contested seats in Oktibbeha County include all but one seat on the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors, tax collector, District 3 Justice Court judge and chancery clerk.

At the state level, voters will decide Mississippi’s next governor and lieutenant governor, among other offices. Two legislative races within the Golden Triangle are also on the ballot.

Elmore reminded voters that they would need a photo ID to be able to cast their ballots. She also encouraged voters to research the candidates to make sure they knew who they wanted to vote for.

According to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office, photo IDs accepted at the polls include driver’s licenses, ID cards issued by branches departments and entities of the state of Mississippi, U.S. Passports, government employee IDs, Student IDs from accredited Mississippi universities and community colleges, tribal photo IDs, any other U.S. governmental IDs and Mississippi voter ID cards.

All polling places statewide will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, and those remaining in line after 7 p.m. are still allowed to vote.

No campaigning or campaign materials for any candidate are permitted any closer than 150 feet from a polling place.

It is the position of the Secretary of State of Mississippi that wearing a T-shirt for a given candidate in a polling place constitutes campaigning, and is prohibited.

Elmore also encouraged everyone who was registered to vote to exercise his or her right today.

“Be sure to vote,” Elmore said. “Please get out and vote."

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