Election Commission discusses voting during pandemic

Glenn Parrish

The Logan County Election Commission met Friday to discuss the logistics involved with a special election being held next week and the November General Election.

Commissioner Russ Parish said Friday the commission considers the Booneville sales tax election next Tuesday “a dry run” test for the General Election.

Because the election includes early voting in the Logan County Courthouse, Logan County Judge Ray Gack was also in attendance at Friday’s meeting.

It is at the courthouse where early voting, which began on Tuesday of this week, will be conducted.

Gack has instituted a mask mandate for entering the courthouse and the commission discussed Friday whether that can extend to the voting process.

Governor Asa Hutchinson issued a statewide mask mandate effective July 20 in situations where social distancing is not possible, but his directive includes the exemption of “voting, assisting voters, working as a poll watcher, or actively performing election administrative duties.”

Gack had said previously the mandate inside the courthouse would remain in force but Friday said the staff would “firmly suggest they have masks on for voting.”

“Our workers are all going to have masks on, it’s just to protect our workers and to protect the public,” said Gack.

Because the only issue on the ballot is to vote for or against the extension of a one percent sales tax within the city of Booneville — and only Booneville city residents are eligible — a time investment is expected to be minimal.

“They’ll be in and out in two minutes. All they have to do is sign their name and vote for or against it,” said Gack. “It shouldn’t take too long to get people through.

“This one isn’t concerning me as much as the one in November. That one is going to be very challenging.”