Voting in a Pandemic: How to Be Safe While Getting Your Vote On

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered our daily lives in America. Wearing a mask has become commonplace. Many schools and universities have gone completely remote. Concerts, sporting events, and indoor dining feel like things of the past. A lot has changed this year to say the least.

And guess what? Election Day is going to be just as weird. Anyone surprised? Didn’t think so.

With the social and economic upheaval in our country, it is imperative that U.S. citizens exercise their right to vote in the Nov. 3 election. This election is critical. In the 2016 election, 33% of non-voters were ages 18-29. If we really want a say in our futures, we as young people need to vote. Our voices matter, and we can have a major impact on the direction of our nation for generations to come. Stay tuned for more content on the importance of the youth vote in articles to come!

What makes this critical election even weirder is that it is happening in the midst of a global pandemic.

So how can we safely gather in large groups (AKA long lines of people) at polling places? Voicing our political opinions is of utmost importance, and we can exercise this right in a way that does not compromise public safety because we have already learned how to take the proper precautions. And that’s just what we’ll do on Election Day.

Take the Safest Route

The best way to vote this year is to vote by mail. By filling out your ballot at home, you can avoid large crowds of people and still participate in the election. Many states are offering this option. For instance, California is automatically sending each registered voter a vote-by-mail ballot for the election. This is the safest option because it prevents you and others from potentially spreading COVID-19 at the polling places.

Here are the state-by-state absentee ballot rules. It is highly recommended you turn your mail-in ballot in TODAY (Oct. 22), so mail that in right away!

Safe Ways to Vote In Person

If you are still have reservations about mail-in ballots and you plan to vote in person at a polling place, follow these 5 quick tips on how to keep yourself and others safe:

1. Do Your Homework

Prior to Election Day, spend some time researching the measures that will appear on your ballot. These specific issues will depend on your local and state governments. The more familiar you are with what you’ll be voting on, the quicker you can fill out your ballot and the quicker you can leave the crowd of voters. Bonus: you’ll be a smarter voter too!

2. Come Prepared

Before you vote in person, make sure you’re fully prepared to vote. Check your voter registration status online and ensure your name and address are up-to-date. Find out which polling place you need to vote at and bring your photo or non-photo ID with you. We recommend having all these materials ready to go the night before. Taking such measures can help you avoid mistakes at the polling place and reduce your time spent there.

3. Determine Your State’s Safety Protocol

Each state has different safety guidelines for Election Day. However, even if you live in a state that has re-opened or has relaxed its COVID-19 policies, you should still take safety precautions while voting in person. Check in with your state or local election office to find out about safety regulations and potential in-person voting risks in your area. We recommend wearing a mask at all times because it keeps you AND others safe. Win-win situation.

4. Follow CDC Guidelines

You’ve probably heard this a thousand times, but here’s the nitty gritty on wearing a mask: according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) wearing masks helps prevent the spread of COVID-19. So when you go to your polling place, please wear a mask. Wearing a mask will help protect you and other voters.

The mask should cover both your mouth and your nose! Do not remove your mask or move it down to your chin while in public. You should also wear gloves, avoid touching your face in public, and follow other tips from the CDC. Mask up!

5. Scope out the Scene

On Election Day, do your best to vote during off-peak hours, such as the middle of the morning. If possible, see if there is a large crowd at your polling place and wait it out until fewer people are voting. You can also check if your state offers early in-person voting.

If you cannot avoid large crowds, be sure to stand at least 6 feet apart from other voters. When you return home, wash your hands thoroughly. Additionally, there have been long waiting periods at the polls for early voting alone. This being said, eat a hearty meal before you go to the polling place (just in case).

Get the Green Light Before You Go

As a final note, please be mindful of your health before Election Day. Engaging in social distancing practices and wearing a mask properly will help reduce your chances of contracting or spreading this virus and make it safer for you to vote in person.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in recent contact with someone who has COVID-19, get tested prior to Election Day. If you test positive for the virus before the election, check your state’s absentee ballot rules to see if you can vote by mail instead.

If worst comes to worst, you find yourself sick on Election Day, and your only option is to vote in person, remember to be extra considerate of the voters around you. Double your masks, use hand sanitizer, keep your distance at the polling place, and inform others of your condition when necessary.

Happy Voting!

This November, make smart choices for your government and your safety.

  • Share this important information with your family and friends.
  • Check our Instagram for a voting in person checklist, coming soon!

Maya Santos, Content Creator

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