4 Safety Tips for In-Person Voting

4 Safety Tips for In-Person Voting

COVID-19 has changed much of how we live our everyday lives. Civic engagement and the 2020 election are no exceptions. In addition to the broad range of other ongoing concerns surrounding the 2020 election, COVID-19 precautions have become paramount to the voting process. But be reassured, it is safe to vote in person! There are plenty of easy to follow guidelines and many people in your community working hard to make sure that the process is safe.

How voting will look different this year

Precautions are being implemented and changes are taking place across the gamut. Some precincts are moving polling places to larger venues that allow for proper social distancing, and some are closing down entire polling places altogether. If using an absentee voting option, note that votes received after November 3rd might not be counted, depending on the state. In most places, it is likely too late to mail in an absentee ballot, so your three remaining options are early in-person voting, dropping absentee ballots at an official collection point, or in-person voting on November 3rd.

To make sure your absentee vote is counted, instead of mailing it, drop your ballot off at a polling location, registrar’s office, or official ballot drop box on or before November 3rd. Find options for dropping off a ballot near you here. If you go in person, read four important tips below to stay safe.

4 Tips for Safe In-person Voting

When going to your polling place in person:

  • Cover, sanitize, and social distance. Practice standard COVID-19 safety with face coverings, hand sanitizer, and social distancing. 
  • Pay attention to poll workers and signage. Follow poll workers’ instructions and be sure to utilize any sanitation stations or directional signage provided to help with social distancing or crowd management.  
  • Prepare for the possibility of a long wait. Due to pandemic-related changes, some polling places may experience long lines. If this is anticipated, prepare for a long wait and dress according to the weather. Also bring water and anything you might need during a long wait (check your phone and battery life, too). 
  • Check official guidance first. Before heading out to the polls, visit official resources like the CDC’s interim voting guidance and CISA’s poll worker guidance.

Stay calm and vote!

Civic participation and COVID-19 safety need not be mutually exclusive. Despite the scramble, a broad array of changes and proven precautionary measures have been implemented. More voting precincts than ever before are offering contact-free options for those at highest risk from the novel coronavirus. Younger people are stepping up to volunteer at the polls in higher numbers than ever before so that the traditionally over-65 poll workers can protect themselves. 

For everyone voting in person, as with protesting for social justice or even a simple trip to the grocery store, official guidance in conjunction with personal behavior can protect against community spread at the polls. This election, it’s just as important to feel good about the way you cast your ballot as it is to feel good about who you vote for.