Clay County Circuit Clerk Kim Brown Hood and Election Commissioner Chairman Lindy Ivy asked the Clay County Board of Supervisors Monday to look into acquiring plexiglass at voting precincts for the upcoming special election on Sept. 22 for the vacant Mississippi House of Representatives seat in District 37.
The request signifies a focus on voter safety for upcoming elections on Sept. 22 and Nov. 3 — a focus circuit clerks and other officials in the Golden Triangle are having to take as they plan for local and federal elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re just taking all necessary precautionary measures to make sure everybody feels safe to get out to vote,” Lowndes County Circuit Clerk Teresa Barksdale said.
Seven precincts in Lowndes County will be eligible to vote in the House District 37 race on Sept. 22, Barksdale said, and she said she already has plans for poll workers to wear face shields to protect them from the virus. The county will also provide masks and hand sanitizer and place stickers at voting precincts to remind voters to stay six feet apart.
The same measures, she said, will be taken during the federal election on Nov. 3.
Eight of Clay County’s 14 precincts will be eligible to vote in the Sept. 22 election, and measures are already being taken to preserve safety at those precincts as well, Ivy said. No more than four machines will be used in a precinct, while only one table will be used. Each machine will have to be wiped down after every use, and curbside voting using a tablet will be offered. Masks will be required to enter the precinct.
“We don’t want anyone getting sick while they’re at the precinct,” Ivy said.
Ivy estimated the cost of plexiglass to be around $100 per unit, and hoped the board could acquire glass at a lower rate.
“Most of our poll workers are older,” she said. “So we want to protect them as much as possible.”
Clay County Sheriff Eddie Scott suggested Monday if the county was going to purchase plexiglass for eight of the 14 counties, it may be forward thinking to buy it for all 14 in preparation for November. The board elected to explore the matter further at a later date.
In Oktibbeha County, Circuit Clerk Tony Rook said the county is considering all options to make the upcoming elections as safe as possible.
“We have already installed plexiglass here in our office and we are considering plexiglass shields at multiple precincts, if not all precincts,” Rook said. “We’ve made no decision yet, but we are in constant communication with the election commissioners to determine the best way to proceed.”
Fourteen of Oktibbeha’s 20 counties will be eligible to vote in the Sept. 22 election for the District 15 Senate seat.
Hodge is the former sports editor for The Dispatch.