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Desoto County voters experienced lengthy wait times on Election Day. 

Election officials in DeSoto County said that there is no evidence of voter fraud or other efforts to compromise the integrity of last Tuesday’s elections.

As unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud circulated online, there were no concerns of voter fraud in DeSoto County in the November election.

The many safeguards in place to keep elections secure in DeSoto County are reflected across the nation, though rules vary from state to state. Though absentee turnout was at a record high in the county, officials still worked hard to keep the election secure and fair by following these procedures:

The processing of paper absentee ballots in Mississippi is a lengthy process that includes multiple security checks to ensure a ballot was legally cast. Here is how that process works in DeSoto County: 

(a) At the close of the polls, election managers for each voting precinct process the absentee ballots received before any counting begins. Election managers have to verbally announce the name, address and precinct written on each envelope.

(b) The signature on the voter’s ballot application is compared with the signature on the back of the envelope. If these match, the election managers then verify the voter is registered and did not vote in-person. The envelope is then marked as “ACCEPTED” and the voter is marked as having voted in the pollbook. 

(c) All absentee ballot envelopes are then placed in a ballot transfer case and delivered to election officials at the DeSoto County Courthouse, where tabulation occurs on Election Night. 

(d) After removing an absentee ballot from its envelope and observing it to be regular, the ballot is scanned. The totals from absentee ballot scans are then combined with the in-person totals for the unofficial vote count.

Even with long lines and stacks of absentee ballots, officials saw this election as a success.

“For it being a historical election, and with the COVID-19 pandemic, I think our county did outstanding,” said District 3 Election Commissioner Danny Klein. 

Hours-long lines wrapped around buildings and parking lots at precincts all over the county on Election Day. Many long-time voters said they had never before waited more than a few minutes to cast their ballots. 

While there were no major voting issues in DeSoto County this year, Klein said the never-before-seen lines “should be an eye opener” to other large counties and showcased the need for early voting in the state.

“When we have a presidential election, the large counties in the state of Mississippi need to have some kind of early voting… so when 2024 rolls around, they won't have those large lines. Anyway, that's just this one man's opinion,” said Klein, who is retiring this year after 17 years as an election commissioner. 

Only people who are 65 and older, disabled or going to be away from their home area on Election Day are allowed to vote absentee in Mississippi. Last week, Gov. Tate Reeves vowed to never allow no-excuse early voting as long as he occupies the Governor’s Mansion. 

DeSoto County had already broken its 2016 record for absentee ballots cast more than a week before the election. The certified election results for DeSoto County should be released by Friday. Currently, election officials are processing more than 300 mail-in ballots that were received after Election Day but before the Nov. 10 deadline. 

After those votes are tabulated, the county resolution board will handle any issues that arise from ballots being filled out incorrectly, such as a bubble being marked with a check instead of filled in. They will then be added to other totals for the official count. 

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