A lot of the operating procedures have changed for the Natchitoches Parish Registrar of Voters Office to deal with the coronavirus and the state’s reopening guidelines. What what does it all mean and what does it actually look like for judges and their staff members?
The Natchitoches Parish Journal wanted to provide readers with a window into the world of the Registrar’s office and how operations have adapted. The Courthouse as a whole is requiring citizens to wear masks upon entering the building. Temperatures are also being checked at the main entrance.
The Registrar’s office has three employees who have been coming in every day through the pandemic to keep the office operations running smoothly. Registrar of Voters Katherin Holden, Chief Deputy Shaneka Turner and Confidential Assistant Riley Deen were prohibited from working from home as many people did because the Registrar of Voters is a state office.
The biggest way they’ve been affected is that the election was pushed back. The office has been on a constant roller coaster trying to get information out as things change and answering calls from residents who are asking questions about their ballot.
Voters who received a ballot for the April 4 election will need to keep that ballot and use it for the new July date. Even though it has the April 4 date printed on the ballot, it is still good.
As a way of adjusting to the changing times the state issues a mass bailout to all registered voters who are over 65 years old so they can fill out a form for absentee voting.
One worry s that voter turnout will be affected because people Amy be afraid to go to the polls when the time comes. There are Covid-19 applications for voting if someone under the age of 65 is an at risk individual or lives with someone who is. These forms must be requested and are only valid for this election cycle.
The Registrar’s office is already planning ahead for early voting. They normal run five machines in the courthouse hallway outside of their office, but in July they will only have three operating to achieve the 6 foot social distancing requirement. They will also only allow eight voters into the building to stand in line at any point during early voting.
“We still want everyone to come out and vote,” said Holden. We want people to feel safe. If you don’t, request a ballot or give our office a call for more information.”