Jefferson County talks about postponing election until May 24

Local News

UPDATE:

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — The Jefferson County Election Commission met last night to talk about postponing the election and voted to file a judgment with the county asking to postpone until May 24.

While they have filed that, until they hear back from a judge they will have to keep going on and planning for the runoff to start early voting next week.

Original Story:

PINE BLUFF, Ark. — The city of Pine Bluff is taking a drastic step to try and stop the spread of COVID-19, after the first patient in the state was diagnosed there last week.

Mayor Shirley Washington is urging people to stick smaller groups. She’s suggesting gatherings be 10 people or less when possible, that’s what the CDC currently recommends for people who are at high risk.

While groups of 50 people maximum are still allowed, Washington says she’s cancelled every city event through the end of the month,

“Stay at home in a quarantine state as much as possible, I feel like that’s one of the best ways to prevent the spread of this virus,” Washington said.

City Hall is currently shut down and will stay closed through at least Friday.

City council meetings will also be restricted to council members and press. The public can only view meetings through a livestream.

“The city has to be as proactive as possible,” Washington said.

That’s advice the Jefferson County Election Commission is trying to follow, even if it means postponing a runoff election.

Early voting was supposed to start next week, but Commissioner Michael Adam says that’s not a good idea.

”This is the epicenter of the problem in Arkansas all right now,” Adam said. “I don’t want to put any of our people at risk at a poll site.”

Adam says the majority of poll workers are older than 65, meaning they’re at high risk to contract the virus.

“Everything in the poll site is hands-on. You have to sign the poll book, you have to give them your ID, you have to use the touchscreen,” Adam said. “We can’t even find any wipes to wipe off the screens. All that stuff is sold out there’s nothing around.”

Adam says the final decision will be up to the state, but if he gets his way the election will be held off till May.

“We all have the right to vote but we also have the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness and we need to protect ourselves so we can have those three rights,” Adam said.

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