COVID-19 voting precautions for Election Day

How to stay healthy while you’re out at the polls

Disinfectant wipes near voting booths in Palm Coast. (Image: Jeff Segers/WKMG) (WKMG 2020)

If you’re heading to the polls this election day, there are some precautions you’ll want to take to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Joseph Khabbaza, a critical care medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic, said it’s a good idea to assess the safety of the situation when you arrive.

“If it doesn’t feel safe, if it feels like there are too many people, or too many crowds, or distancing and masking are not enforced, I’m recommending people either get back to the end of the line or just leave and come back late in the day,” he said. “Try to be the last person in line per se, where it can be a bit less stressful when there are less people around.”

Once you get in line to vote, you’ll want to keep 6 feet away from others.

Wear a mask over your nose and mouth; and sanitize your hands after touching objects like door handles and voting machines.

Many polling locations provide hand sanitizer, but it’s not a bad idea to bring your own -- just in case.

In addition, standing quietly in line will generate fewer respiratory droplets -- so try to avoid talking on the phone or striking up a conversation with those around you.

People looking for another way to protect themselves can wear a face shield, in addition to a mask, to prevent droplets from getting into their eyes.

“One other thing that I’ve been recommending to patients, especially since lines have been longer, is wearing a face shield,” said Khabbaza. “That gives you an extra layer of protection in case you end up in settings where maybe spacing is not enforced, hopefully masking is something that is enforced, but it gives you an extra layer.”

Poll workers will encounter many people, over many hours and may be at higher exposure risk, so in addition to masking, social distancing and good hand hygiene, they may want to consider constructing a clear plastic or glass barrier for added protection.