PONTOTOC COUNTY, Miss. (WTVA) -- November's general election is still a couple of months away, and voting is already on the minds of Pontotoc County leaders.
A new grant allows the county to install temporary ramps to make polling places more accessible for those with a disability.
Circuit Clerk Melinda Nowicki says a portable mat and a threshold ramp will be installed at several polling places in Pontotoc County.
"Everybody has the right to vote, and we want to make sure it is more accessible for the handicapped," said Nowicki.
She said there is wheelchair accessibility once you get to the door of each precinct but it will be a bumpy ride getting there.
"I know from rolling my mother in a wheelchair across the gravel you can do it but it is just difficult," said Nowicki.
The mats will be placed over the gravel and serve as a landing pad. The pad will make the ride smoother for a wheelchair or scooter to move from the parking lot to the door.
Ronnie Jernigan is thrilled about the idea. He said while he has never had a problem voting, he knows firsthand the difficulty of gravel. He said he fell many times as a result.
"It's quite annoying, aggravating, embarrassing, humiliating — whatever adjective you want to use," said Jernigan.
His friend Randy Lavender demonstrated how he has to move through gravel. He does a "wheelie hop" to keep from getting stuck or falling.
Jernigan said this fear is a hurdle that could prevent many who are disabled from voting.
"Would you go somewhere if you knew there was a potential of a nightmare waiting on you? Voting is important. But even with that, you are just not going to want to go do it because of the possibility of getting dumped out of your chair," said Jernigan.
The temporary ramps will not cost taxpayers any money. The county secured a grant of more than $3,000 to pay for them.