By Alyssa Schnugg
With a high voter turnout expected in November, Lafayette County has hired additional poll workers to assist and direct voters, as well as hiring additional people to help keep the precincts clean.
On Monday, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors approved hiring four additional poll workers and 34 “COVID-19” workers to clean voting areas.
The county hired 108 poll workers for the general election generally. This year there will be 112.
Poll workers normally receive $115 for the day but will receive an additional $50 in hazard pay. COVID-19 workers will be paid $125 for the day.
The Board approved the spending of about $11,000 for the additional hazard pay and workers.
Polling places will need more workers than usual in order to keep equipment clean, ensure people social distance and to assist voters who may request curbside voting.
Lafayette County Circuit Court Clerk Jeff Busby said he expects a large turnout on Nov. 3 and also expects absentee voting to quadruple.
“Generally we have about 2,000 absentee votes,” he said Tuesday. “I expect that to increase to about 8,000.”
Busby said he encourages people 65 years and up to vote absentee, the earlier the better. Absentee voting will begin on Sept. 21.
“The earlier you can come to the Clerk’s Office the vote, the safer it will be,” he said. “There will be long lines at the precincts on Election Day, and I encourage people 65 and up to absentee vote. Don’t wait for a day or two before Election Day because it will get busy at the office as well.”
Busby said the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office is asking the Attorney General’s Office to clarify recent bills approved by the state Legislators on whether fear of contracting COVID-19 for high-risk individuals will be a viable excuse to not vote at the polls, and whether or not a doctor’s note or notarization will be required.
Currently, the bill states someone can request an absentee ballot if under physician-imposed quarantine due to COVID-19, or if they caring for a dependent under quarantine.
“We should have that clarified soon,” he said.
Voters who are out of town, in the military, away at college, over age 65, or required to work when polls are open were already among those allowed to vote absentee.