By: Ray King
As early voting for the March 31 runoff continues, the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office is taking extra precautions to avoid exposure to the coronavirus.
County Clerk Shawndra Taggart said Thursday that a deputy at the courthouse door is taking the temperature of before they enter the door and once inside the office, residents are asked to hold up their identification rather than handing it to a deputy clerk.
Unlike past elections where voters sign their name to a list, election clerks are performing that task before sending voters to the room across the hall from the Quorum Courtroom where only a few machines are set up.
Taggart said voters are asked to stay at least six feet apart and only three voters at a time are allowed to enter the room where the machines are set up.
After putting on gloves, a poll worker Thursday morning asked the first voter of the day if he wanted something to use to touch the machine rather than using a finger, then handed the voter a pencil from Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston. The voting machines are also wiped down after each use.
Tuesday night, the Jefferson County Board of Election Commissioners said that same procedure will be used on election day.
On Tuesday, the first day of early voting a total of 22 people cast ballots early while the total for Wednesday was 24.
Last week, the state board of election commissioners recommended that voters use absentee ballots and according to the clerk’s office, 111 absentee ballots have been mailed out and through Thursday morning, 26 ha been returned.
Only two races are on the ballot, one in Pine Bluff where Lloyd Franklin and Steven Shaner are seeing the Ward 2 City Council seat being vacated by Win Trafford. In the other contest, Jeff Edwards is looking to unseat current District 13 Justice of the Peace Brenda Bishop Gaddy.