GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - With only 21 days until America votes, South Mississippi poll workers in Harrison County are back in the classroom.
On Tuesday, both seasoned and rookie poll workers alike were trained on what to do when thousands of South Mississippians vote in what political pundits are calling one of the most pivotal elections in history that will also take place during a pandemic.
Harrison County Election Commissioner Becky Payne said that 86 additional workers have been hired to help sanitize areas after each voter leaves the booth and precinct as well as help in social distancing.
“We went over everything from COVID cleaning at the precincts to the procedurals and voting process that will go on at the precincts. So if I’ve trained these poll workers right, and they’ve grasped all of the information that we have to give them in a four-hour training class, then they should do well," Payne said. “We are providing PPE for the poll workers such as masks, gloves, shields, hand sanitizers, and we’re putting sneeze guards up."
Additional training was offered for what Payne thinks will be an increase in curbside voting due to COVID-19. The tricky part of the curbside option is that the voter’s car actually becomes official.
“Curbside voting is established for people that are disabled," Payne said. “In this case, if you are sick with COVID and you weren’t able to vote absentee, if you’re concerned that you may have COVID, you’ve tested but you don’t have your results, then you can vote curbside. If you are doing curbside and somebody has brought you, once you receive a ballot, that car becomes a precinct. The poll managers would ask that all people that are able to get out of the car to get out of the car so that there’s no undue influence or that it wouldn’t appear that there’s any influence on that person that’s voting,” Payne told WLOX.
It was a lot of information for new poll worker and familiar face WLOX alumnus Dave Vincent. With time on his hands, Vincent said that he enjoys the learning process.
“Well, I learned there’s a lot more to it than I thought. I mean, making sure that every person’s vote counts, make sure that it’s done in complete secrecy and how to work with the public and make sure they feel comfortable," Vincent said.
It’s all worthwhile, Vincent said, if it means maintaining the sanctity of the all-powerful vote.
“Elections are something we shouldn’t take for granted. I think this will be a chance to really see our electronic, democratic process in action," Vincent said.
Election day is on Nov. 3.