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If the yard signs, commercials and flyers haven’t already reminded you — the United States presidential election is just weeks away. November 3 marks voting day across the country, and that has many feeling uneasy this year as we’re also battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Is it safe to vote in person on Election Day? Would early in-person voting or a mail-in ballot be a better option? You, and only you, can decide which option is best for you, perhaps depending on your personal health history, the amount of COVID-19 cases still in your area, and the type of protective measures you’re willing to take. Whichever method you decide to use to cast your vote this year, we’re here to help you do so safely.
Mail Your Ballot In
If you are considered high risk of becoming severely ill from coronavirus, or if you live in an area with a high positivity rate, that may be a good reason to look into absentee voting by mail.
You can obtain an absentee ballot here, and just be sure to check the rules your state has implemented for deadlines and return methods. Here is a state-by-state list of more information on absentee voting.
Once you are ready to return your ballot, some states offer the option to do so online. This is a great option to steer clear of any possible crowds and germ spread. If you need to return your ballot in-person, such as by dropping it off at your local election office, remember to practice safety guidelines during this in-person visit.
At some locations, you’ll simply need to drop your ballot in a mail slot and therefore you’d have little interaction with others, if any at all. If this is the case, just be sure to put your mask on and use hand sanitizer before and after touching common surfaces, like the mail slot.
If you have to wait in line, make sure you have your mask on, covering both your nose and mouth snuggly, and stay at least 6 feet from others who are also waiting.
As your return to your car, be sure not to touch the inside of your mask as you take it off and use hand sanitizer before touching anything (especially your face).
Many Americans prefer to vote in person, no matter their health history or other factors, and that is understandable. If you’re in this category, please consider taking additional safety measures to protect yourself, poll workers and other voters.
If you choose to vote in person, doing so early may allow you to avoid crowds and longer lines.
Social distancing and mask-wearing enforcement differs by county, so you may not be able to count on others who are also visiting the polling location to follow safety guidelines, too.
You can always check with your local station in advance to ask what protection will be in place during early voting. Asking questions like, “Will there be space markers on the floor to guide social distancing?” Or, “Will the poll workers be sanitizing surfaces regularly?” can help you decide if it is an environment you’re comfortable with.
If the answer is yes, deciding to vote early in person can greatly cut down any possible exposure to COVID-19, as the crowds should be reduced the sooner you go. Make sure to take your mask with you, preferably a cotton mask with multiple layers of fabric, and keep it on covering your nose and mouth at all times — even outside if you’re waiting in line.
Bring tissues along with you, should you need to sneeze or cough, as well as hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol or disinfecting wipes. If you’re unsure if your voting location will be sanitizing pens, it’s not a bad idea to bring your own with you. If you will be voting on a touch screen, bring a glove or wipe your finger before and after with a disinfectant wipe.
Voting On Election Day
It is your right as an American to cast your vote in person on November 3. Just know that doing so may mean you’re surrounded by large groups of people, who may or may not be social distancing and wearing masks.
In addition to the precautions we’ve outlined for early voting, try to vote alone if you choose to come on Election Day. Leaving the kids with another caretaker will reduce their possible exposure.
Please remember to ensure you’re protecting your health, as well as the health of the poll workers and other voters, by taking the following precautions when you vote in person:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue if you cough or sneeze
- Dispose of your tissue immediately
- If you are feeling sick, stay home
- Social distance by staying at least 6 feet away from others
- Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol
- Wear a face covering that completely covers your nose and mouth
Coronavirus Resource Hub
At AdventHealth, we’re here to help safely guide you through life’s everyday moments and special occasions, like Election Day. To stay up to date on all the latest coronavirus news, visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub.