Benton County election commission addresses coronavirus concerns amid runoffs


BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — As runoff races loom in Benton County, the spreading coronavirus has been confirmed in Arkansas. County runoff elections are on for this month, and the election commissioner said they’ll do more to keep people from spreading germs at the polls.

“There’s just no way around [the virus spreading], so we have no choice,” said Kim Dennison, Benton County’s election coordinator. “This is where the stuff is at.”

Benton County employees were told if a coworker’s diagnosed with the virus, entire buildings will be shut down for a period of time. The elections won’t adhere to that same policy, Dennison said.

“Here for the elections, it does not matter for us,” Dennison said. “We still have to hold an election whether the virus is around or not.”

Though the House races are important, cleanliness at the polls is a primary focus in these special elections.

“The only thing we added additionally was the hand sanitizer at the polling sites on the way out the door,” Dennison said. “We always clean the screens before they go out, and they’ve always had cleaning kits at the polling site.”

Though electronic voting stations eliminate the need for writing utensils, a pencil could still come in handy for people who don’t want to use their fingers on the touchscreen. Pencil erasers can be used on the screens.

With low turnout a typicality in runoff races, fear over the spreading virus could keep even more people away from the polls.

“We still have to make the election happen and prepare for a full turnout whether we only get five people at the polls or we get 500 at the polls,” Dennison said.

Though the virus has a confirmed case in Arkansas, it’s important for people to still show up and vote if they can, Dennison said.

“If for some reason you don’t wanna get to the polls, you can still request an absentee ballot from the county clerk’s office,” Dennison said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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