Voting in person 2020

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How to Vote in 2020 Election Safely in Person

How to Vote in 2020 Election Safely in Person

Take the necessary steps to stay safe this election season
Voting in person 2020

Sean Rayford/Getty Images

In the leadup to Election Day 2020 on Tuesday, Nov. 3, voters nationwide must decide how they will exercise their voting rights. Some ballots will go postal. Others will be cast in drop-off boxes. But for anyone considering voting in person at their local polling place, here are the steps to take.

Make sure you are registered

Make sure you are registered

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Prior to making the decision to vote in person, confirm your voter registration status. To do this, visit Can I Vote and select your state from the drop-down menu. You will be redirected to your state elections site where you may properly check your status.

Check for a change in polling place

Check for a change in polling place

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, changes in polling places are possible. Locations may move out of places like senior centers that cater to vulnerable populations and into larger, well-ventilated areas like convention centers or school gyms. After confirming your registration status, also check your polling place at Can I Vote.

Fill out or review a sample ballot

Fill out or review a sample ballot

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Prior to election day, review or fill out a complete sample ballot at home. Knowing who and what you plan to vote for down the ballot will make for a speedy voting booth visit. For a sample ballot, visit your state’s election office website.

Consider early voting

Consider early voting

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Most states allow registered voters to cast their ballot in person on specified dates before Election Day without an excuse. On average, early voting periods last 19 days, beginning 22 days before Election Day and ending just a few days before it. Visit your state’s election office site for specifics or consult this National Conference of State Legislatures chart.

Monitor your symptoms

Monitor your symptoms

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Always monitor yourself for coronavirus and flu symptoms. If symptomatic on Election Day, do not enter buildings or indoor polling places where signs direct you not to. Your jurisdiction may offer alternative in-person voting options, like designated pollings sites that give poll workers personal protective equipment or curbside voting, for voters with symptoms.

Consider curbside voting if ill, elderly or disabled

Consider curbside voting if ill, elderly or disabled

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Polling places may offer curbside voting for individuals unable to enter the facility due to age, disability, an at-risk medical condition or any condition that inhibits them from being able to wear a mask. Call or check with your state’s election office for details.

Bring all required documents

Bring all required documents

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As of 2020, 35 states have laws that either request or require voters to show some form of identification at the polls. To see what your state requires, consult this chart.

Wash your hands before voting

Wash your hands before voting

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With your documents prepared, properly wash your hands for 20 seconds before exiting your home or entering the polling place. Sanitize your hands using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if hand-washing is not available. 

Keep children and others at home

Keep children and others at home

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To prevent virus spread, limit the number of unnecessary non-voting eligible persons you take to the polls. Try as much as possible to keep any children or other non-voting family at home.

Prepare for long lines

Prepare for long lines

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Before heading to the polls, fuel up on a hefty snack or healthy smoothie. This will hold you over in case polling place lines are long. Carry a charged phone, black pen and pocket-sized bottle of hand sanitizer on you too.

Head to the polls during off hours

Head to the polls during off hours

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To best avoid the polling place lines, vote during off-peak hours like mid-morning. This will limit your exposure to other voters who may put off voting until later in the day.

Monitor the line from your car

Monitor the line from your car

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If you commuted via car to the polls, stay inside your vehicle until any visible lines dissipate down. Join when the voter line has shortened and you can more quickly cast your vote.

Ditch the gloves

Ditch the gloves

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, gloves should be used when cleaning and disinfecting your home and when caring for someone who is sick. Wearing gloves outside of those two instances, like at the grocery store, will not protect you from contracting the virus and may still spread germs. Instead, stick to hand sanitizer and handwashing.

Wear a mask

Wear a mask

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Wearing a face mask may be required or strongly suggested at your polling place. Be sure to properly wear yours over your mouth and nose. Should you forget your mask at home, ask a poll worker if there are any extra masks available on site. 

Maintain social distance

Maintain social distance

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While in line, at the check-in desk or in the voting booth, maintain a minimum of 6 feet from other voters and all poll workers. It is likely that your polling place may have already reconfigured voting booth layouts and marked the ground with tape to encourage social distancing. 

Mind the polling place signs

Mind the polling place signs

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Like at reopened doctors’ offices and restaurants, your polling place might be plastered with instructive signs on social distancing guidelines and other rules to follow. Look out for any signs directing the flow of foot traffic in one direction or another.

Sanitize often

Sanitize often

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Sanitize your hands often using hand sanitizer after touching any high-frequency areas like railings, doorknobs, bathrooms or voting booths at the polling place. Be sure to allow your hands to fully dry before touching any electronic polling equipment.

Cover coughs and sneezes

Cover coughs and sneezes

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Cover any coughs and sneezes with a tissue and wash hands immediately after. Throw used tissues away in the trash.

Avoid touching your face

Avoid touching your face

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Help your skin by not touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

Ask to use your own black ink pen or stylus

Ask to use your own black ink pen or stylus

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The CDC recommends voters bring their own black ink pen or stylus to the polls. Before entering the voting booth, ask a poll worker whether you may use either the pen or stylus from home.

Cast your vote

Cast your vote

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After safely moving through the line, check-in and into the booth, it’s time to vote. You may be required to fill out your paper ballots using provided disposable pens or pencils if not using a pen or stylus from home. Touchscreen ballots may be marked using provided Q-tips, finger covers or other disposable devices.

Do not wipe down the voting equipment yourself

Do not wipe down the voting equipment yourself

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After casting your vote, do not wipe down or sanitize any of the voting equipment yourself. Electronic devices can be damaged by CDC-approved cleaners and disinfectants. Polling place staff should sanitize voting booth surfaces after each use.

Pick up your ‘I Voted’ sticker

Pick up your ‘I Voted’ sticker

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As you exit your polling place, remember to cash in on any prized “I voted” stickers or wristbands. These make for necessary Election Day wear.

Thank a poll worker

Thank a poll worker

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Coronavirus concerns have led to a nationwide poll worker shortage. Practice gratitude and say thank you to any poll workers you encounter on Election Day or when casting your in-person ballot early. 

Lastly, wash your hands after voting

Lastly, wash your hands after voting

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Finally, as you exit the polling place and return home, wash and sanitize your hands once more. Exercising your right to vote is just one of the 101 things every American should do in the U.S. in their lifetime

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