This is a monumental election season for so many reasons, but there is an entirely new obstacle in place that we’ve literally never dealt with before: the highly infectious COVID-19.
While the pandemic poses new challenges for voting, it does not mean that it isn’t possible to vote safely, even for high risk populations. If you live in one of the states that is doing universal vote by mail, you’re lucky to have the easiest and COVID safest voting option. Or perhaps you requested an absentee ballot in advance of the election. In that case, you can safely deposit your ballot in one of the official ballot boxes, or send it in via USPS.
But if you have to vote in person, here is some guidance for making sure you cast your vote without comprising you or your familia’s health:
- Vote Early
If you weren’t able to vote by mail, like for many in more conservative states that have not expanded access to this option, then voting early is your safest bet. Many states are currently in their early voting period. Early voting allows you to go to any polling location, and you can strategically pick one that is less likely to be crowded.
- Be Strategic About When You Head to the Polls
You can also go at off times, like during the work day or early morning. Some areas even have websites that allow you to see wait times at different polling locations. If you have to vote on Election Day, you can still be safe by following the next few precautions.
- Take Precautions
Wear a mask. Make sure to sanitize your hands after you vote. Many polling places are following guidelines for COVID safety, like social distancing, providing gloves and hand sanitizer and limiting the number of people in the location at a time. If you’re really concerned about exposure, you can also wear eye protection or a face shield in addition to your mask for extra protection. Make sure not to touch your face or mask while voting. Keep at least six feet distance from others.
- Be Prepared to Wait
Some places are experiencing long wait times, even for early voting, so make sure to be prepared with whatever you might need to be in line for a bit. Water, snacks, some good music or a podcast to listen to. Keep your mask on and keep your distance from other voters while waiting.
It’s a scary time for many reasons, but it is possible to participate in this election while keeping yourself safe. And ultimately, keeping our communities safe means getting Trump out of office.