Student Voting Guide | Mississippi

August 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of Mississippi. If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state where you attend school. If you want to cast an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here. While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated August 15, 2014.

Registration

To register to vote in Mississippi, you must be a United States citizen and at least 18 years old by the next general election. You may register and vote in primary elections while you are still 17 if you will be 18 by the date of the general election.[1] If you have been convicted of a felony, it may impact your ability to vote. If you think you might be affected, you should contact your local election officials.

You may register to vote either in person or by mail.[2] Voter registration applications are available here. You must register in person or postmark your mail-in registration application at least 30 days before the election in which you wish to vote.[3]

You may register in person at: your County Circuit Clerk’s Office; your Municipal Clerk’s Office;[4] or the state Department of Public Safety, where you apply for or renew your driver’s license.[5] Voter registration is also available at a number of state or federal agency offices.[6] A full list of county registrar offices is available here.

To register by mail, you must send a completed mail-in registration application to the county registrar’s office—usually the County Circuit Clerk’s office.[7] Mail-in applications are available at the locations listed above, and can also be found at public libraries and downloaded from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s website.[8] The application asks that you include either your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your social security number.[9] If you cannot provide either, or the state cannot verify your numbers, you may include other proof of identity and address (see “Identification” below for accepted documents).[10] If you provide no proof of identity and address with your application, you may be asked to present proof of identity and address the first time you attempt to vote.[11]

Residency

At School. Students can establish residency in Mississippi if they have a present intent to remain at their Mississippi school address for the time being, and they intend to make it their principal home.[12] Any other interpretation of the residency laws is unconstitutional.

If you moved from another state to attend school in Mississippi, you may vote in Mississippi if (1) you have resided in the county or municipality where you wish to vote for at least 30 days, and (2) you intend to make your school residence your home.[13]

At Home. If you moved from Mississippi to attend school in another state but wish to vote in Mississippi elections (i.e., vote from your parents’ Mississippi address), you should have no problem doing so, unless you have already registered to vote in another state (see “Absentee Voting” below).[14] Likewise, if you move from one Mississippi county to another to attend school, you may still vote from your original county, unless you register in the county where your school is located.[15]

While registering to vote in another state is not automatically considered an abandonment of residency in Mississippi, some judges or officials might view it as such. If you have established residency in another state and are moving back to Mississippi with the intent to reside here, you will have to follow the normal registration procedures to re-register in Mississippi.

Challenges to Residency. Your county or municipal registrar has the right to deny your registration if he or she believes you do not meet residency requirements.[16] If your registration is denied, the registrar must notify you.[17] County election commissioners will automatically review the denial before the next Election Day.[18] You also have five days from your denial to appeal the decision, in writing, to the county election commissioners.[19] If you appeal, you are entitled to a hearing before the commissioners, where you can present witnesses or other evidence.[20] If the commissioners decide against you, you can challenge their decision in court.[21] If your registration application is accepted, other Mississippi voters have five days to challenge your eligibility to vote. Challengers must give you notice and follow the same appeal procedures.[22]

Your eligibility to vote can also be challenged at the polls.[23] Poll workers, other voters, and partisan poll watchers can challenge your eligibility based on your residency qualifications.[24] Poll managers will then consider the challenge.[25] If they unanimously decide the challenge is proper, you will vote a “rejected” ballot that will not be counted.[26] If they unanimously decide the challenge is frivolous or made in bad faith, you will be allowed to cast a regular ballot.[27] If the poll managers cannot easily determine the validity of the challenge on the spot, you will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot marked “challenged,” which may or may not be counted at the end of the day, at the discretion of the poll workers.[28]

Identification

Mississippi voters must show photo ID at the polls.[29] Acceptable forms of photo ID include a Mississippi driver’s license; an ID card issued by the State of Mississippi; a U.S. passport; an employee ID card issued by the U.S. government, the State of Mississippi, or any state entity; a Mississippi license to carry a pistol or revolver; a tribal identification card containing a photograph; a U.S. military ID; a student ID issued by an accredited college in Mississippi; and an official Mississippi voter ID card.[30]

If you do not possess an acceptable form of photo ID, you may obtain a free Mississippi Voter Identification Card from county registrar’s office.[31] Mississippi Voter Identification Cards are not yet available; the Secretary of State and the Mississippi Department of Public Safety are required by statute to work in conjunction to provide these ID cards.[32]

If you do not provide photo ID at the polls, you may vote by affidavit ballot, which will be counted if you present acceptable photo ID to the registrar, or execute an affidavit stating a religious objection to being photographed, within 5 days.[33]

Absentee Voting

If you are student from Mississippi living elsewhere for school, you are still eligible to vote absentee in Mississippi.[34] Beginning 45 days before the election, you can pick up an absentee ballot from your county or municipal registrar’s office,[35] or you can apply for an absentee ballot by mail.[36] However, applications made by mail must be notarized.[37] There is no formal deadline for your application, but you should leave enough time to receive and return your ballot by mail. Once you have a ballot, you can complete it at the county or municipal clerk’s office, but you cannot drop off already completed ballots.[38] You can also cast your absentee ballot by mail, but, like mail-in applications, it must be notarized.[39] If you applied for your absentee ballot by mail, you must also have your actual ballot notarized.[40] Your absentee ballot must be received by the registrar by 5 pm on the day before the election.[41] If you submit your ballot in person, you must do so noon on the Saturday before the election.[42]

As of July 2014, absentee voters submitting ballots by mail do not need a photo ID in order to vote.[43] The Secretary of State is required by statute to prepare instructions on how absentee voters may comply with the in-person photo ID requirements.[44]

Last Updated August 15, 2014.


[1] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-11.

[2] Miss. Code Ann. §§ 23-15-37; 23-15-47.

[3] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-11; Miss. Ann. Code § 23-15-47(2)(a).

[4] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-35(1) (designating municipal clerks as the registrar for their municipality).

[5] Miss. Sec. of State’s Office, Frequently Asked Questions, available at http://www.sos.ms.gov/elections_voter_info_center_faqs.aspx.

[6] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-33(2) (requiring individuals to be registered to vote when registered pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act); Miss. Sec. of State’s Office, How do I register to vote in Mississippi?, available at http://msvoterid.ms.gov/pages/VoterIDHowToRegister.htm (“Voters may also register at certain state and federal agencies.”).

[7] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-47(2)(a); Miss. Sec. of State’s Office, Frequently Asked Questions, available at http://www.sos.ms.gov/elections_voter_info_center_faqs.aspx.

[8] Miss. Sec. of State’s Office, Frequently Asked Questions, available at http://www.sos.ms.gov/elections_voter_info_center_faqs.aspx.

[9] Miss. Sec. of State’s Office, Mississippi Mail-in and NVRA Agency Voter Registration Application (2009), available at http://www.sos.ms.gov/links/elections/voter_information_center/tab1/Voter_Registration.pdf.

[10] Miss. Sec. of State’s Office, Mississippi Mail-in and NVRA Agency Voter Registration Application (2009), available at http://www.sos.ms.gov/links/elections/voter_information_center/tab1/Voter_Registration.pdf.

[11] Miss. Sec. of State’s Office, Mississippi Mail-in and NVRA Agency Voter Registration Application (2009), available at http://www.sos.ms.gov/links/elections/voter_information_center/tab1/Vote....

[12] See Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 330 (1972); Williams v. Salerno, 792 F.2d 323, 328 (2d Cir. 1986).

[13] McCaleb, Op. Miss. Att’y Gen. 1982 WL 44480 (Miss. A.G. Oct. 29, 1982) (students must have “a bona fide, unqualified intent to make the place of occupancy or residence on the college or university campus [their] home”).

[14] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-713(a).

[15] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-713(a).

[16] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-35(2).

[17] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-45.

[18] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-43.

[19] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-61.

[20] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-69.

[21] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-71.

[22] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-63.

[23] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-571.

[24] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-571(3)(d).

[25] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-579.

[26] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-579.

[27] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-579.                                                    

[28] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-579.

[29] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-563(1).

[30] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-563(2).

[31] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-7.

[32] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-7.

[33] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-563(3).

[34] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-713(a).

[35] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-715(a).

[36] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-715(b).

[37] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-715(b).

[38] Miss. Sec. of State’s Office, Municipal Election Handbook 18-19 (2013), available at http://www.sos.ms.gov/links/elections/2013/2013MunicipalElectionHandbook.pdf..

[39] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-721(1).

[40] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-721(1).

[41] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-721(3).

[42] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-637.

[43] Miss. Sec. of State’s Office, Are There Exemptions to the MS Photo ID Requirements?, available at http://msvoterid.ms.gov/pages/VoterIDExempt.htm.

[44] Miss. Code Ann. § 23-15-631(3).