LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Governor Asa Hutchinson has said there will be physical locations to vote this November.
He has also issued that COVID-19 is a valid reason to request an absentee ballot. This has left election officials across the state to change up the way things will operate come November 3.
Election officials have said that the polls will be as safe as they can be this November.
“What we’re doing is making sure that we have plenty of PPE for the workers,” said Terri Hollingsworth, Pulaski Circuit County Clerk.
“The poll workers will be wearing masks and we do have face shields available. The check-in tables will have those little plexiglass screens,” said Gene Haley.
Gene Haley is the Election Commissioner in Garland County and he says he will have sanitizer covered also.
“I think I’ve got 85 gallons of hand sanitizer,” said Haley.
Haley said Garland County ahs had to consolidate polls because workers have asked not to come back, Pulaski County Clerk Terri Hollingsworth said they just had to shift locations.
“At this point, we’re not scaling down any of our polling locations we have had a few polling locations that you know that normally do an election day they said they didn’t want to do it but our libraries have stepped up,” said Hollingsworth.
With the governor allowing COVID to be a valid reason for requesting an absentee ballot, both have seen those numbers skyrocket already.
“We’re already at 8,000, in 2016 we only have 1,500 request at this point in time,” said Hollingsworth.
“I believe right now we have over 2,000 applications for absentee ballots,” said Haley.
Counting those ballots will take time and workers on elections day. Haley says he has boosted his absentee ballot staff.
“Normally I would have about eight poll workers doing absentees and will have at least 20 to 24 of them for this one,” said Haley.
Each absentee ballot will have to be processed on Election Day and both Haley and Hollingsworth say it could lead to result delays.
“You could possibly see that results may not be at 12 o’clock like we usually have you know usually we can go to bed election night and we know who won but that may not be the case,” said Hollingsworth.
Hollingsworth wants to assure voters that all votes will all be counted and that this process is different for them too.
“We just want people to be patient we want people to definitely participate in this democracy and we’re going to get this done,” said Hollingsworth.
Each absentee ballot is about $3 to produce between the extra envelopes and postage. Hayley said Garland County could see an extra cost of around $30,000 and if one-third of Pulaski County’s registered voters request ballots, that would be an upwards of an extra $258,000