SALTILLO - City officials asked residents to vote absentee ahead of Thursday's special election runoff to avoid the possible spread of the Coronavirus.

And the people responded. A total of 147 took the time to go through the drive-thru at Saltillo City Hall to cast their ballot ahead of the Tuesday afternoon deadline. The March 26 runoff between Scottie Clark and Scott Knight will determine who fills the vacant alderman's seat.

With people worried about the spread of COVID-19 and the possibility of large gatherings at the polls, officials asked people to take advantage of absentee voting and stop by city hall during regular business hours and vote at drive-thru window where people normally pay water bills.

"I am totally impressed with the response and the patience of people," said city clerk Mary Parker. "People have been really understanding, even when there has been six cars in line."

Drive-thru voting can take a little longer as the citizen fills out the necessary forms before getting the ballot. After making their selection, they seal it in an envelope, sign it and return it to the clerk.

"There has been a steady stream of people (since we asked people last week to vote absentee)," Parker said. "The people have been very cooperative and grateful that we were able to offer this alternative to getting out in a crowd on election day."

Normal voting will begin March 26 at 7 a.m. at the Saltillo Community Center. Officials will have a number of precautions in place to reduce the possibility of spreading germs.

"We will try to leave the doors open so no one has to touch a door knob," Parker said. "We will ask people to just show their photo ID, instead of handing it to the poll worker."

Mayor Rex Smith said they will also try to limit the number of poll workers to keep the number of people inside the precinct below 10 at all times. They will also divide the polling place into sections to sign in, vote and turn in their ballots. That will help keep people at least 6 feet apart.

Businessman Clark and former alderman Knight finished atop the eight-man field earlier this month to determine who will serve out the unexpired term of Malcomb Driskill, which will end in the summer of 2021.

Driskill was elected to the board in 2017. He and his wife purchased a home last year just outside of the Saltillo limits. They hoped that by the time they finished the renovations, the house would be inside the city limits. When annexation plans were delayed, he was forced to resign at the end of January.


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