How to Stay Safe While Voting

The United States presidential election is right around the corner, and although elections traditionally offer opportunity for engaging debates and discussion, this year’s election cycle is particularly challenging, because we are still in the midst of a global pandemic. It is important to exercise our democratic right to vote but staying safe while doing so is critical.

To date, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than one million people worldwide, with more than 200,000 of those in the U.S. alone. Without a COVID-19 vaccine approved for wide distribution in the U.S., how can people cast their ballots this November while staying safe and keeping others safe as well?

METHODS OF VOTING SAFELY

The CDC released a thorough guide to let polling stations and voters know how to adhere to the best health and safety practices during this year’s election cycle. While many of the safety strategies are in the hands of election officials and precinct volunteers, there are many steps that voters can take to protect themselves and others.

Voting in person

The first consideration for voters is to decide if they feel well physically. If a person feels well and does not have symptoms or potential viral infection, they may choose to vote in person at their local precinct while keeping these steps in mind:

  • Avoid lines by preparing documents and forms, such as a driver’s license or voter ID card, in advance
  • Practice social distancing
  • Arrive at the polling station during slow hours if possible
  • Wear a face mask
  • Wash hands before and after visiting the polling station, and use hand sanitizer frequently
  • Bring your own black pen and e-stylus
Voting by mail

An alternative to voting in person in Michigan is to vote by mail. Due to a statewide ballot proposal passed in 2018, all eligible and registered voters in Michigan may now request an absent voter ballot without providing a reason.

To complete the application to receive an absent voter ballot, visit michigan.gov/vote. Check your voter registration status at the Michigan Voter Information Center. Absent voter ballots may be returned via postal mail, fax or email as long as the voter’s signature is visible. While voting by mail is safer and easier, there are still recommendations to follow while returning the ballot:

  1. Practice social distancing
  2. Wear a face mask
  3. Wash hands, and use hand sanitizer frequently

While voting is an important part of the democratic foundation of the U.S., staying safe while keeping others safe as well should be top of mind.

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Photo credit: visualspace

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