COVID-19 Precautions at the Polls
Sunday, August 9, 2020 - 11:01am
The City of Madison is taking precautions to make Tuesday’s Partisan Primary Election safe and accessible.
Thanks to community partners stepping up to offer space for voting, the city will have twenty more polling locations than it had in April. The additional polling locations will minimize lines and facilitate social distancing throughout the city. Before heading to the polls, voters are encouraged to verify their polling location at www.cityofmadison.com/WhereDoIVote.
There are 1,112 poll workers scheduled to work on Tuesday morning, and 1,172 poll workers scheduled to work in the afternoon and evening. Poll workers will use health-screening questions provided by Public Health Madison & Dane County to determine whether they are able to work on Tuesday, and will cancel their shift if any of the following apply:
- Fever in the past 72 hours
- Fever-reducing medication in the past 72 hours
- Chills or body aches within the past 72 hours
- A cough within the past week
- Difficulty breathing in the past week
- Sore throat in the past week
- Cold-like or flu-like symptoms in the past week
Curbside voting will be available at all polling locations, as always, for voters with health concerns. A team of poll workers wearing safety vests will be watching for curbside voters near a large feather flag that says Vote Here. If a curbside voter wishes to use their own ballpoint pen, they should wave the pen at the poll worker approaching their vehicle. Poll workers will check the voter’s ID through the car window. If a curbside voter needs to register, poll workers will be able to check the voter’s proof of address through the car window. The voter will mark their ballot in their vehicle, and poll workers will insert the ballot into the tabulator to be counted.
Signage will encourage anyone with the following symptoms (or in close contact with someone who has the following symptoms) to vote curbside:
- Shortness of breath
- Nasal congestion
- Sore throat
Additional signage will promote wearing facial coverings in the polling place, encourage social distancing, and alert voters that poll workers may be using latex gloves.
Each polling location will have hand sanitizer available for voters and poll workers. Everyone should avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands or with gloves. Hand sanitizer will be kept away from the ballot table because wet ballots shred in the tabulator.
Voters are encouraged wear face masks. Poll workers will offer hand sanitizer to voters entering and exiting the polling place. The floor will be marked with painter’s tape to help voters maintain six feet of social distancing while in line. Due to the need for social distancing, even a short line of voters could extend outside of the room where voting takes place.
All poll workers will be wearing face masks. The city will provide its poll workers with face masks, but poll workers may wear their own mask from home as long as it does not have a political or vulgar design.
Every hour, poll workers at the ballot table will announce a reminder to practice social distancing. Each polling location has an hourly safety checklist that will be used to verify that all poll workers are wearing a face mask over their mouth and nose.
Plexiglas screens will offer additional protection at stations where voters and poll workers interact within six feet of each other. Poll workers checking voter ID will compare the voter’s eyes with the image on the voter’s ID. Poll workers checking voter ID will not ask voters to remove their face masks.
When selecting a voting booth, voters should stay at least six feet away from other voters who are not members of their own household.
Poll workers will disinfect voting booths, pens, and touchscreens after each use. They will also continuously disinfect high-touch surfaces. Doors will be propped open where possible.
Voters may use their own blue or black ballpoint pens to sign the poll book and mark their ballot. Voters who need to register to vote on Election Day can minimize the amount of time they need to spend at the polls by bringing a completed voter registration form with them to the polls.
Voters who still need to return their absentee ballot may deliver it to their polling location or have a friend, neighbor or family member deliver their ballot to the polls. The ballot must be sealed in its certificate envelope bearing the voter’s signature, the signature of a witness, and the witness’ address. Curbside poll workers will accept the absentee envelope and take it into the polling place to be processed.
- Maribeth Witzel-Behl, 608-266-4601, firstname.lastname@example.org