The recruitment of 125 additional poll workers in Hinds County for the Nov. 3 general election is ongoing. They will help keep the polling precincts safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hinds County Election Commission Chairwoman Toni Johnson said at a press conference Wednesday.
"Hinds County is currently recruiting 125 poll workers that will be stationed at each precinct to clean throughout the day, as well as maintain social distance," she said. "We will be allowing not more than 10 persons in the precinct at one time due to the CDC guidelines, and these poll workers will be assisting in that."
Voters must wear facial coverings at the 110 voting locations, Johnson said. Those who come without facial covering will collect one of the 50,000 purchased by the county's board of supervisors for the election.
"We have also purchased gloves, wipes, Lysol spray, disposable pens for each voter, as well as hand sanitizers," she said. "We have also ordered 25 additional voting machines for our large precincts, to cut down on the line. Each district will have an additional five machines."
Johnson said the workers will receive $125 for the day and $20 for training, and those interested can call 601-968-6555.
Three Precinct Changes for November, Special Election on Sept. 22
She also announced three precinct changes because of COVID-19. "(For) District 1, Precinct 45 (at) St. Philip's Episcopal Church (5400 Canton Road, Jackson) will be combined with McLeod Elementary School (1616 Sandlewood Place, Jackson)," Johnson said. "These two precincts will be voting on one location but in two different parts of the (school) building. The auditorium (will be) for McLeod, the cafeteria for St. Philip's."
Precinct PN in District 2 at Federation Towers, 301 Federation Drive, Clinton, will be temporarily relocated to Summer Hill Junior High School, 400 W. Northside Drive, Clinton. For District 3, Precinct 26 at True Worship Ministry, 5019 Clinton Blvd., will move temporarily to Fire Station 15, 4943 Clinton Blvd.
Johnson said the special election for House District 66, to replace Democrat Jarvis Dortch, involving only 14 precincts, will take place Sept. 22. Absentee voting for that election starts Aug. 10. Dortch resigned from office on July 2, 2020, to become executive director of the Mississippi chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Hinds County Board of Supervisors President Robert Graham said at the briefing that other changes will be announced in the coming months as the election date draws near.
"There are several changes that have been made, and we anticipate having to make several other changes as it relates to the elections," he said. "We are planning on having a press conference, at least once a month, throughout the time of the election cycles up until the Nov. 3 election to make sure that we keep the public aware of what is going on in Hinds county as it relates to the voting process."
Campaign to Increase Absentee Voting
Hinds County Circuit Clerk Zack Wallace announced measures at the briefing related to absentee voting, which for the Nov. 3 election starts Sept. 21 and ends on the 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 31. He said voters older than 65 automatically qualify to vote absentee. Other reasons can range from the need to work that day to the need to travel.
"We are preparing to make sure everyone comes here feeling safe and ready to cast their vote in a timely manner," he said. "We have safety measures in place; we want everyone to wear masks before entering the circuit clerk’s office. Social distancing will be required. In the circuit clerk’s office, we do have plexiglass. Everyone should feel safe. The temperature will be taken at the entrance."
He said anyone with any questions can call 601-968-6640 and that he will hold a dally rally from Sept. 21 to 25, with food trucks and voter-registration tables set along the road to increase awareness of absentee voting.
"The event is (for) people to come down here and learn about how easy absentee voting is, to be able to cast their vote and leave safely," he said. "For the whole week (starting) Sept. 21, which is the first day of absentee voting, up until Friday, Sept. 25, we will have events every day to announce that absentee voting is going on."
Email story tips to city/county reporter Kayode Crown at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @kayodecrown.