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Polling stations keeping safe on Election Day

Polling stations to implement social distancing and sanitation practices for Election Day
Shawnee County Election Office holds advance voting before Election Day. (July 28, 2020)
Shawnee County Election Office holds advance voting before Election Day. (July 28, 2020)(Production Control | Joseph Hennessy)
Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 2:43 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Polling stations across Michigan are gearing up for the primary elections, but this election will look different than those in the past.

Election workers are implementing cleaning tactics and social distancing for Election Day to curve the coronavirus.

Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope said there will be about 3,000 voters who show up to the polls Tuesday.

In order to keep them safe, disposable masks will be offered to those who don’t have one. Each voter will receive their own pen so they don’t have to share with other voters. Election workers will wear face masks and face shields.

Swope said the voting booths will be spread at least 6 feet apart.

He said, “We’re going to have our election workers do their best to direct people to specific voting booths, so that people are more spread out; and so that in-between voters they can have an opportunity to go and wipe those down.”

Election workers will no longer scan a voters driver’s license. Instead, the voter will hold up their license and the worker will type their information.

There will be stations at the polls, including check-in, that won’t allow for social distancing.

Swope said, “The person that checks you in at the computer they’re going to have to be close enough so they can see you holding up your ID. You’re going to have to hand them the application to vote.”

According to Swope, 22,500 ballots were sent out and about 15,000 ballots were sent back. Looking at these numbers, Swope isn’t expecting a large in-person voter turnout.

However, if there is a large crowd they will be asked to wait outside and will be let in in small groups to adhere to social distancing recommendations.

Operations may move slower than normal because of the COVID-19 restrictions and recommendations, but Swope said they are also near being understaffed.

However, the pandemic has caused a lot of election workers to back out of their position.

Swope said, “All of our election workers are older and we want to protect them and protect the voters.”

Although masks are encouraged for voters to wear they are not required.

Swope said if someone shows up without a mask they will be allowed to vote.

He said, “They still have a right to vote, so we will let them go ahead and vote. We’re not trying to antagonize anyone so our goal is to have that first person that greets them on their way in be the one person that says anything; and then throughout the process they will be treated like any other voter.”

Polls open Tuesday at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

It’s too late to mail in an absentee ballot, but voters can turn in an absentee ballot in person.

The ballots need to be turned in by 8 p.m. Tuesday in order to count.

There are 24-hour drop boxes for voters to turn in the ballots.

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