Elections office sign

During Tuesday night’s McDuffie County Board of Commissioners meeting, County Manager David Crawley informed the commission that an administrative staffer at the Elections and Voter Registration Office had tested positive for COVID-19.

The office has been closed to the public and the unnamed worker who tested positive and the rest of the office staff are self-quarantining at home, Crawley said. The COVID-19 positive worker had no contact with poll workers at county polling stations, who are currently assisting voters during early voting for the General Primary/Presidential Preference Primary to be held June 9.

McDuffie County Elections and Voter Registration Director Phyllis Brooks will continue to work inside the closed office, according to Crawley. She will wear a mask and gloves, and had planned to be tested for the coronavirus on Wednesday, with results expected on Saturday. He added that McDuffie’s Election Office would be professionally cleaned and disinfected on Wednesday.

Crawley also informed the commission that Brooks did have contact with poll workers earlier this week, but both she and the poll workers were wearing masks and gloves and practiced social distancing during their interaction.

He stressed that public health department officials told him the risk of Brooks potentially spreading the virus to poll workers – should she test positive – would be extremely low due to the precautions they had taken.

Brooks is the only county official certified to supervise elections in McDuffie County, according to two members of the Board of Elections who attended the commission meeting.

The county manager told commissioners if assistance with elections will be needed, the county would request help from Columbia County’s Election and Voter Registration Office.

Crawley also told commissioners that due to a staffing shortage, early voting would not be offered at the polling station inside Dearing Community Center beginning next week. Early voting would only take place at the old gym in Thomson, across from the Brickyard.

Voters who vote absentee can mail in or return their completed absentee ballots to a ballot drop box on the sidewalk outside the old Courthouse in Thomson.

In-person early voting will be suspended on Monday, May 25, due to the Memorial Day holiday, according to the Elections and Registration web page at thomson-mcduffie.com.

Early voting ends on June 5. Hours for in-person early voting are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 26-29; and from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturday, May 30; and from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. June 1-5.

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