Chickasaw County voters to use paper ballots in upcoming election

Poll workers trained on new scanning and counting machines

HOUSTON, Miss. (WCBI) – Voters in Chickasaw County will notice a big change when they head to the polls next week. For the first time in years, votes will be marked on paper ballots.

For two weeks, poll workers in Chickasaw County have been trained on the new machines, which will electronically scan and count each paper ballot.  The election commission is also making sure each machine is working and ready for election day, November 8.

“Today we’re completing the set up of all the machines, going from everything from making sure they plug in and turn on, security, loaded sample election, had sample ballots we ran through those,” said District Two Election Commissioner Gary Huffman.

For the first time in years, Chickasaw County voters will use paper ballots when they cast their vote. The switch was mandated by Mississippi lawmakers.

“The state legislature mandated by 2024 elections that all precincts, all counties have paper ballots or use a machine that produces a paper ballot,” Huffman said.

One scanning machine will be placed at each precinct, along with a machine for voters with special needs. Huffman says paper ballots provide a verifiable trail that fully electronic touchscreen machines do not have.

“The big concern has always been the lack of a paper ballot, which our old machines did not produce. The great advantage to these machines is the voter physically holds in his hands, a physical ballot, marks it himself and places that ballot into the ballot counter and it goes into a locked ballot box then,” Huffman said.

Currently, it’s estimated that 34% of Mississippians live in counties with only touchscreen voting machines. But two years from now, that number will drop to zero as every Mississippian who casts a vote will cast it on a paper ballot.

The state covered 80% of the cost of the new machines for Chickasaw County. Election Day is next Tuesday. Polls are open from 7 in the morning until 7 in the evening.  You must present a government-issued photo ID in order to vote.

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