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Election officials take steps to prepare for safe election in November

With just over five weeks left, local election officials are ramping up their work to prepare for the Nov. 3 general election that not only will welcome large numbers of voters but also welcome them in the midst of a pandemic.

But, officials urge local voters this election will be “just another election” thanks to the steps being taken to ensure both the security of the election and the safety of those voting.

“This election, in most regards, will be just another election,” Warren County Election Commission Chairperson Sara Dionne said.”The only difference is that we must be aware of, and prepared for, COVID-19 safety, for the voters and the poll workers.

“We do not know what the status of this pandemic will be, but we are over-the-top prepared, she said. “Voters do not need to worry about safety while voting at their polling place. We have procedures set up that will make them clean and safe, for voters and poll workers.” 

Dionne said voters, when voting in-person, will still need to show identification, sign in and use the touch-screen voting machines as in previous elections.

This election, though, will also take place at a time when social distancing guidelines and mask mandates are expected to be in place.

Dionne also said election officials will also take additional safety steps:

• All polling places will be thoroughly cleaned the day before the election.

• All surfaces — including voting machines — will be sanitized throughout the day.

• Masks, gloves and hand sanitizer will be available to those entering polling places.

• Pens used when checking in will only be used once.

• Safety shields will be placed between poll workers and voters.

• For safe voting, cotton swabs, will be used by voters to actually vote on the touchscreens.

• A health assessment will be done on those entering a polling place and the number of those allowed within a polling place will be closely monitored.

“The line to vote may look longer than normal, but this will be because folks are required to stand farther apart,” Dionne said.

But those expected longer lines, Dionne said, should not be a reason to vote absentee.

“Some folks think that voting absentee at the courthouse will be safer. This may not be true because of a number of reasons,” she said. “The area where absentee voters will wait in line in a multi-use space shared with two busy courtrooms and several busy offices.”

In those cases, too, there is not enough room for proper physical distancing and those voting absentee have to wait to take part in the multi-step process that, Dionne said, takes about a half-hour.

Therefore, considering COVID-19 safety concerns, it is probably safer to vote at your polling place,” she said. 

The last day to register to vote is Monday, Oct. 5. For in-person registration, the Circuit Clerk’s office will be open until 5p.m. For mail-in registration, the postmark must be no later than Oct. 5. If you have moved to Warren County from another county in Mississippi, you can use the Y’All Vote website to register in Warren County at www.sos.ms.gov. 

The deadline for existing registered voters to update name and address is Oct. 26. This form is available at the Circuit Clerk’s office, online at Y’All Vote, or online at the Warren County website, on the Circuit Clerk’s page. If you have not voted in several years, or if you are not sure where you vote, call the Circuit Clerk’s office at 601-636-3961 or the Election Commission office at 601-630-8030.

“No matter where you vote, the process will take less time if you are a prepared voter,” Dionne said. 

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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