Commissioners begin planning for November election

Gerren Smith
Staff Writer

Hot Spring County Election Commissioners Jim Houpt, Jerry Craycraft, and Walt Grant along with HSC County Clerk Sandy Boyette and HSC Election Coordinator Liz Pfeiffer met Wednesday to discuss plans and preparations for the upcoming 2020 November General Election during the meeting of the HSC Board of Elections.
Committee members went over options for the November Election and possibly what personal protective equipment would be needed to ensure the health and safety of poll workers and voters due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While reading over plans and options, committee chairman of the HSC commissioners Houpt said, "We are looking at better ways to protect the poll workers as well as the voters ... Our plan, at this moment is to have one major vote center instead of nine different locations."
The committee decided to reduce the number of vote centers from nine to two locations. The Hot Spring County Fairgrounds building in Malvern is the designated area and venue to host poll workers and voters for the 2020 November General Election set for November 3.
Early voting will be held at the HSC Fairgrounds October 19 to November 2. The Bismarck Methodist Church will be the other vote center location for the general election.
Also, the committee mentioned providing a drive-through for handicap and disabled voters at the HSC Fairgrounds during the general election.
Further discussion during the meeting included plans of supplies that will be needed to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus to protect the health and safety of voters along with staff and poll workers.
In past weeks, Arkansas Secretary of State staff has contacted county clerks via phone regarding a federal grant to provide funding for additional costs spent to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally, for the 2020 federal election cycle.
The SOS provided a supply list of items to give options of necessary supplies to procure federal grant money that will assist in getting the necessary items such as—gloves for election staff/poll workers, masks for election staff/poll workers, surface disinfectants/cleaning supplies for poll areas and voting equipment, hand sanitizer, shields or protective barriers for poll areas, social distancing supplies-making tapes, distancing queues—such as (rails and ropes, signage), stylus pens for voters to sign and mark machines, secured drop boxes for absentee ballots and much more.
Although the November general election is months away, Houpt feels it is necessary to start preparing early to make sure everyone is on the same page—commissioners, clerk and election coordinator.
An increase of poll workers will be needed to help work for the November General Election and anyone who is interested in working is encouraged to contact Pfeiffer at the Election Office at 501- 229-1666 or Boyette and staff at the county clerk's office at 501- 332-2291 .
The committee will meet again on June 3 to discuss more plans and details pertaining to the upcoming November general election.