Voting by mail possible

Circuit clerk Monet Autry visited the Marshall Clunty Board of Supervisors recently to talk about the next election and also discuss court issues.

First up was the election.

"We're going into another election cycle," she said.

All five election commissioner positions, one per district, will be on the November 3 ballot. Candidates must qualify by June 1.

Anyone qualifying for election commissioner must submit a Statement of Intent and also submit a petition signed by not less than 50 registered voters of the district verified by the circuit clerk's office.

One school board member position (in District 5) will also be on the ballot, and candidates must be certified as well. The deadline to qualify for school board is September 4.

Voting by mail may be in the next election.

"Pressure is growing to go back to paper ballots, too," she said. "It looks like the secretary of state will support a change-over to paper ballots. It's all done by machine and counted by machine. The ballots are scannable and we would machine count paper ballots."

Supervisor George Zinn III asked if there will be early voting.

"If it passes, it is going to be by mail," Autry said. "We are trying to figure out how people can vote without going to the polls. Several poll workers in the Delta got the virus after the election."

If paper ballots are used, only one machine would be used to scan all the votes, she said.

She said the second congressional district had to extend runoff election dates because of the Coronavirus.

"It is a huge slowdown if people vote by mail," she said. "At this point voting by mail is an option being talked about. I just hope it doesn't go through before this coming election."

Other issues and topics were brought forward by the circuit clerk.

The May 11 term of court will be held but the upstairs courtroom at the courthouse has to be cleaned. There is scaffolding inside the courtroom but a protective device can be put around it to keep people away from it.

Another option is to use Courtroom B for circuit court when it is not in use.

There are some changes required at justice court, as well. For safety purposes, people will no longer be bussed from the jail to the courthouse. The county will work with the justice court to schedule circuit court appearances because the Supreme Court has said the circuit court has to keep moving.

Autry thanked Sheriff Kenny Dickerson for posting deputies at the courthouse to assist in keeping those inside the courthouse safe from Coronavirus exposure from the public.

"Having a deputy at the courthouse has made a world of difference," she said.

Another anomaly - there is a surge of people getting married, not just in Mississippi but nationwide.

"It is something nobody can explain," she said. "Even older people are getting married."

The cost of a marriage license is $36, up just $1.

"The virus has not slowed down in Mississippi," Autry said. "Once we open back up (to the public), we still have to figure out a way to have a deputy to keep people separated (social distancing).

"We have to protect our employees with masks, gloves and distancing or with a shield. We have to get ready to do that.

"None of us need to be sick. All of us are vulnerable."

The circuit clerk's office is still in a mess from water that came down through the roof during this year's heavy rains. The courthouse is undergoing renovations, which include replacing the roof.

"We can't clean up until the carpet is replaced," she said. "We have to get everything ready, especially the courtroom. There is so much dust in the courtroom that has to be cleaned up."

Supervisor Charles Terry asked whether a person coming into the building would have to wear a face mask.

"The federal government and Centers for Disease Control has not mandated a mask. It is just recommended," he said.

Board attorney Kent Smith said the local government cannot be more liberal than federal and state law, but it can be more strict.

Autry asked who would supply the masks, including those for county employees.

"My concern is for everybody's safety," she said. "Once the door is open, people who live on the street come in and use the bathroom facilities. We have to be prepared. They have a right to come into a public building. I need guidance. Keep in mind it is a public building."

Holly Springs South Reporter

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Holly Springs, MS 38635
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