Harrison Co. preparing for a general election overshadowed by a pandemic

Harrison County preparing for a general election overshadowed by a pandemic

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Poll workers will now get more money to work the upcoming general election, and precincts will also have more workers on hand to make sure that COVID-19 precautions are in place.

The Harrison County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to sign a letter releasing CARES Act money to the Harrison County Election Commission to begin preparations for a general election overshadowed by a pandemic.

“It would allow the CARES Act funds to pay for the $50 pandemic fee. So our poll workers will get an additional $50 for working the election," said Becky Payne, Harrison County election commissioner.

Payne will also get to more than 80 new workers, which will be a huge help as this year’s election brings new duties and responsibilities that have not been on prior poll worker job descriptions.

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“We’re providing PPE. There’ll be masks for voters that don’t come with one if they need one to go in and vote. There will be hand sanitizers. There will be all the normal PPE that you would probably get. We’ll have hired additional poll workers because CARES Act fund has allowed that we can hire up to 86 additional poll workers within the county to work the precincts. That will help with keeping social distancing, hopefully, keep the lines moving at the precincts," she said.

With all of the additional commotion, County Supervisor Kent Jones questioned whether or not the privacy of the absentee voter’s choices would be upheld. Payne said that the precautions taken due to the pandemic will not change the terms of the oath sworn by each member of the resolution board.

“They take an oath to follow the rules, the guidelines, the laws that are set out. We will do extensive training as well, on this, for those members of the resolution board," Payne said.

The general election is on Nov. 3. If you haven’t registered, you still have until Oct. 5 to do so if you want to be eligible to vote in November.

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