ORLANDO, Fla. — With the early voting period for another election beginning next week, a new issue for county elections offices to consider: coronavirus.
While vote-by-mail is being highly encouraged, election leaders are also getting ready for voters to show up at the polls. It’s not just for the protection of voters; many poll workers tend to be older, putting them at a higher risk.
Here’s what each county has told us about plans to make to minimize risk of catching coronavirus.
Poll workers will be required to wear a face shield or mask, and will be given both. Hand sanitizer will be available for them, and sanitizing specialists will sanitize the polling locations, including cleaning each voting booth after use.
Voters will be asked to social distance while waiting for votes. Automatic hand sanitizer dispensers will be available at every location.
Whenever possible polling items will not be reused between voters. This includes ballot secrecy sleeves and pens. Also, when done filling out their ballots, voters will need to leave a “Needs to be Cleaned” care at the voting booth so the sanitizing specialist will know to clean it.
We have requested information from Flagler County.
For poll workers, gloves, masks, face shields, hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes will be available. At least one worker will be required to wipe down the booths.
For voters, masks will not be required but they are allowed. Disposable styluses will be used so that voters can sign the pollbook signature pad when they first arrive. Voters are being asked to being black or blue ballpoint pens to mark their ballots.
The county elections office also says they will try to space the privacy booths at each polling place far apart as possible.
We have requested information from Marion County.
The county says all early voting sites and election day polling places will have plexiglass shields at check-in stations, and poll workers will be provided with chalk and red tape to mark 6-foot intervals to help maintain social distancing.
Voting booths will be spread out and have plastic screens on three of the four sides.
Hand sanitizer, wipes and disinfectant spray will be distributed to all polling sites. Poll workers will regularly sanitize all areas. But they will have to bring their own protective supplies.
Voters are encouraged to bring their own blue or black pens to make ballots. If pends are needed, they will pick them up at the check-in stations, mark their ballots, and then place them in a box next to the tabulator so they can be sanitized after each use.
All election workers will have their temperatures taken, and they will have to wear facing coverings. Cleaning crews will sanitize all polling locations before and after use.
A sanitizing station will be at the door for each site, and equipment will be spread out as much as possible. Social distancing will be encouraged.
Voters will sign into the pollbook using a disposable cotton swab rather than a stylus. Pens will be sanitized after use.
Also, the county will use disposable paper secrecy sleeves for ballots.
Seminole County is sending out a vote-by-mail ballot request form to all active voters in the county. However, voters do not have to get a vote-by-mail ballot if you don’t want one.
Election workers will have gloves, masks, hand sanitizer and alcohol-based cleaning solutions. The elections office says it has enough to equip 800 workers and staff. Workers will watch special COVID-19 training videos so they know about the new procedures.
Occupancy has been calculated for each polling place so workers can plan for social distancing. The office is also getting larger polling rooms so they can arrange the booths to accommodate social distancing.
Workers will tape 6-foot intervals outside the precinct to maintain social distancing, while inside they will make sure people follow that guideline.
Booths and pens will be sanitized after each use. Voters will use one-use secrecy sleeves and specially created disposable styluses using Q-tips for when voters check in.
We have requested information from Sumter County.
The county elections supervisor says polling sites will have plexiglass shields between the voter and the poll workers, who will also have masks and/or face shields, along with disinfectant and cloths to wipe down surfaces, voting booths and secrecy sleeves.
Check-in stations and voting booths will be spaced six feet apart.
Voters will use pens to check in and mark their ballots, and they will get to keep those pens.
Hand sanitizer will also be on hand for everyone.