State officials offer tips for voting safely in person on Election Day

People vote early in Louisville, Ky. on Oct. 19.
People vote early in Louisville, Ky. on Oct. 19.(Source: WAVE)
Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 12:03 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released a series of recommendations for voting safely in person on Election Day.

State health officials are discouraging voters from visiting their polling location if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

They also pointed out that voters who test positive for coronavirus and are required to quarantine on Election Day can apply for an emergency absentee ballot. Those are reserved for people who experience a personal injury, illness or death after the deadline to obtain absentee ballots after 5 p.m. Friday.

Emergency absentee ballots can be obtained until 4 p.m. on Election Day and must be returned by 8 p.m. Voters should contact their local clerk for more information about how to get an emergency absentee ballot.

Other health and safety recommendations for visiting the polls on Election Day include:

  • Wearing a face covering over the nose and mouth even though Michigan’s face mask order exempts voters from the requirement to wear face coverings indoors while at a polling location. Election workers still have to wear a face covering.
  • Washing hands before entering and after leaving the polling location.
  • Frequently using alcohol-based hand sanitizer while in the polling location.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of an elbow.
  • Maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others and installing physical barriers.
  • Keeping voters separate from everyone else in polling locations, such as schools and libraries.
  • Assigning poll workers most at risk for serious COVID-19 illnesses to jobs that require less public contact.
  • Encouraging voters to cast their ballots during less busy times of the day to reduce large crowds. When lines form, move people outdoors as much as possible.
  • Poll workers should use hand sanitizer often and sanitize ballot tabulating machines throughout the day.
  • Encouraging or requiring poll workers to get a COVID-19 test before Election Day.
  • Providing all voters with their own pen so nobody has to share.

“This guidance allows Michiganders to carry out their right to vote while doing it safely during the pandemic,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “I encourage registered voters to consider voting alternatives to limit the number of people they come in contact with and to help reduce the spread of the virus.”

Early voting at local clerk' offices around Michigan continues through Monday afternoon. Voters can request an absentee ballot, fill it out and return it all in one trip.

Voters can obtain an absentee ballot from their local clerk until Monday evening, take it home, fill it out and return it to the clerk’s office or a designated drop box by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

“Michigan citizens can cast their ballots safely and with confidence in this election,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “All election workers are required to wear masks and all voters are strongly encouraged to do so."

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