HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Despite the confusion among state leadership, Harrison County poll workers will mask up for the general election.
The Secretary of State Michael Watson’s office is now releasing administrative rules governing the upcoming election. Some of those rules ensure that absentee ballots are considered the voter’s final vote.
Other newly-adopted rules focus on how voters with COVID-19 will cast their ballots in less than two weeks.
The administrative rules are more than 20 pages that cover absentee voting, and polling place safety. With no clear answer as to whether or not Gov. Tate Reeves will issue additional mask mandates for Harrison County, Election Commissioner Becky Payne says that she’s moving forward with business as usual.
“We’re not under a mask mandate," said Payne. “Maybe that will change. Whether it changes or not, we still have administrative rules from the Secretary of State. Election commissioners, election officials, poll managers, poll watchers must wear masks in the precinct.”
Payne also said that the executive order doesn’t apply to voters.
“Voters can wear their masks," said Payne. “There will be some masks available for those that don’t have one that want to wear one. We will not require masks for voters that don’t want to wear them. They have the right to vote and the mask mandate will not prevent them from voting."
With COVID-19 being a main catalyst for the rule changes, Harrison County Election Commissioners want to make sure that the county’s voters are aware of how to vote, should you or a loved one be diagnosed with COVID-19 days before casting a ballot.
“Curbside voting is available for anybody with a disability. So, if you have COVID that’s considered a disability. So you would be able to curbside," Payne said. “If for some reason you’ve developed COVID over the weekend and wasn’t able to request an absentee ballot, then you would need to get the attention of one of the poll managers, they can come out to your car, and you can do curbside.”
Among the administrative rules is an option for open-air voting, an option that Payne says will be hard to facilitate during such a busy election.
“Open air is not anything that we’ve ever done before. We’ve not had a need to do it because, you know, 2020 just keeps on giving and gave us COVID," said Payne. “In some precincts it may work, in other precincts it might not work. We suggest curbside if you do have COVID. Keep in mind, it’s just not I’m concerned that I have COVID, it is I have COVID.”