Election holders are getting ready for voting in the time of COVID-19.

With a huge turnout anticipated in November, measures for keeping things clean and properly distanced are in the works.

“There will be a lot of security measures implemented to make sure that we have a safe environment for everybody to vote,” said Circuit Clerk Crystal Starling. “Social distancing will be marked and maintained at all times.”

Steps are being taken to help voters avoid making contact with voting machines. Starling said a Q-tip will be provided to each voter to use as a stylus to make selections on the touch-screen machines, and a fresh pen will be given to each voter to use to sign the voter log.

Face masks, gloves and hand sanitizer will be available.

“Additional poll workers have been hired at every precinct that are designated to clean all day long,” said Starling. “We want people to know that we are taking extreme measures.”

The Board of Supervisors recently approved the purchase of sneeze guards to place at the check-in points at each of the county precincts.

Poll workers will wear masks. Training for the poll workers is beginning this week in order to accommodate social distancing and the additional training on cleaning and sanitizing, said Starling. Normally, training would not begin until three weeks before the election.

Although masks will be strongly encouraged, voters cannot be turned away or denied the right to vote if not wearing a mask, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. The SOS is encouraging candidates and certified poll watchers to wear masks when observing. If a local or state mask mandate is in place, failure to wear a mask may result in being asked to leave the polling place.

Locally, the clerk’s office is bracing for a historic voter turnout.

“We are having daily 10 or 20 phone calls, at least, from people interested in procedures for absentee voting or the election, and we’ve had that since July,” said Starling. “Typically, we don’t have these kinds of phone calls until right before the election.”

Staff Writer

Jebb Johnston is a 1991 Alcorn Central High School graduate and a 1995 Ole Miss journalism graduate. His primary beats are city and county government.

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