Graphic by Tai Michaels.
Vote. It’s a word, an imperative and a plea that we have heard a lot lately. Everyday we are reminded of its necessity.
But in a year like this, how do we make voting safe? Whether you are an election official or simply voting as a concerned citizen, there are measures you can take to decrease your risk.
First, know your options. In every state, you have the option to either vote by mail or absentee ballot- although some states still maintain qualifications such as disability or age to vote by these methods. If this is the case, timing matters. If you are unable to vote remotely, try to vote during off hours or participate in early voting if your state offers it. Not only will this reduce your contact with others, it will also decrease congestion for those voting later in the day.
Second, come prepared. Review your sample ballot ahead of time to minimize time spent in the polling place. Staying safe at the polls does not differ much from staying safe in any other public setting. In fact, this past June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines on how to lower the risk of COVID-19 infection at the polls- wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands frequently, stay home if you feel unwell.
Election officials can also reduce the spread, and their own risk, by promoting air circulation with open windows, spacing out lines and polling booths, and capping the amount of people in the room at any given time. As election day grows closer, hold your election officials accountable to these guidelines and be mindful of your impact on both this election and the safety of others. Stay safe. Vote.