How to vote safely in person during a pandemic
Whether you’re voting early or waiting until Election Day, if you’re choosing to vote in person you might have questions about how to cast your ballot safely. Prisma Health infectious disease specialist Edwin Hayes, MD, offered some advice.
Follow COVID-19 safety recommendations
Dr. Hayes said it’s important to follow the fundamental precautions for COVID-19.
- Keep your hands clean. Bring hand sanitizer that you can use, especially after touching the voting equipment.
- Maintain social distance. Stay six feet away from other individuals if at all possible, keeping that distance while you’re in line waiting to cast your vote, which can take a long period of time.
- Wear a mask. Wearing a mask can be protective, not only for yourself but for the people around you. Be sure to wear a surgical mask or fabric mask with two layers. Gaiters and handkerchief masks are going to offer less protection because small particles can propel through them.
“If you can do all of those things together, you’ll decrease your chance of having an issue with COVID-19,” said Dr. Hayes.
Be prepared for a long wait
If you find it physically challenging to wait in line, there are a few things you can do to better prepare.
- Plan ahead. Set aside a good portion of your day for voting. It can be many hours, which means that things you would regularly do, like taking medication, should be done while you’re waiting in the line.
- Bring a support person. If you have medical conditions or would have an issue with a long wait, consider having a family member with you. They can get you the things you need if they’re not readily available on the line.
- Bring a chair. You could be in line for many hours, so bring something to sit on.
- Find the best voting location. It’s a good idea to know what facilities are available. Many of the voter registration offices have satellite branches to help deal with the high volume of voters. Look online to find a more convenient place to vote that’s closer to your home and potentially has a shorter line.
Dr. Hayes said it’s important to stay informed. “Be aware of any changes that develop leading up to the election, follow all COVID-19 precautions and stay up to date with the most recent recommendations from the CDC. This will go a long way in making sure you don’t have any unintended hazards in the course of doing your democratic duty by voting.”
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