ABERDEEN, Miss. (WCBI) – Citizens of Aberdeen will have to wait an extra 28 days before they can exercise their right to vote.
The Aberdeen Board of Aldermen called a special meeting to discuss the possibility of delaying the city election in response to the continued spread of Covid-19.
“It was a difficult, stressful, grievous decision that we have come up against here,” said Ward 2 Alderman Doug Stone.
City Leaders said the special meeting was held after several members of the community expressed their concern about the upcoming election.
“We were supposed to have training tomorrow for our poll workers, so a lot of them are calling and saying ‘we don’t’ feel safe in coming,'” said City Clerk Jackie Benson.
Area churches, as well as members of the NAACP, also voiced their opinion on the matter, asking city leaders to take public safety into account.
According to Mississippi Executive Order 1463, during a state of emergency, city officials have the power to postpone an election– which is exactly what was decided.
“The highlights of this ordinance are for the next twenty-eight days, from April 7th to May 5th, that the election will be postponed during that time frame,” said Stone.
Mayor Maurice Howard attended the meeting via speakerphone. He opposed the ordinance and suggested several of the Alderman were trying to remain in power for as long as they could.
“We are not postponing the election for political reasons. Absolutely not… My motives are the safety of our citizens and our poll workers,” said Stone.
It’s no secret that the majority of poll workers fall into the age range that’s most susceptible to COVID-19.
That’s why the city is looking at alternative ways of training their volunteers.
“The governor has decided only 10 people, so we would have to break the training up into three sessions, which I mean, hey, we can do that,” said Benson.
Stone said there is a chance things will be postponed even further.
“We will monitor the curve of the virus during that time. If all of a sudden we have an increase in the city of Aberdeen and all the stuff that we hope doesn’t happen. It’s possible that we might look at it again if this curve levels out and things calm down, we are moving forward,” said Stone.
The primary election set for April 7 will be held on May 5 followed by a runoff election on May 19.
The general election is rescheduled for June 2.