Early voting has already resulted in long lines in many states, and with the November elections only eleven days away, many states and cities have put in place security measures to protect voters and election workers from exposure to the coronavirus.
But polling stations still have the potential to become “mass events,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned an advisory released on Fridayand added that measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 could be improved.
The C.D.C. The latest advice is based on a survey of the experiences of 522 election workers in the Delaware State Elementary School in September.
Agency guidelines in June recommended several ways to minimize the number of polling stations, including postal voting and extended polling times.
To reduce the transmission of diseases, the C.D.C. also recommended putting physical barriers between voting machines; Distance between machines; Provide 6-foot intervals with signs or floor markings for those waiting in line to vote; Designation of separate inputs and outputs; the use of protective equipment – masks, face shields, gloves, and robes – for election workers who help sick voters; and vote on the roadside for sick people.
“Ensuring that sick voters can vote while maintaining the safety of poll workers and voters is critical to minimizing broadcast without restricting voting rights,” the report said.
But in Alabama, where roadside voting was allowed, the attorney general ordered the voting to be halted, and on Wednesday in the US The Supreme Court upheld the ban.
The new poll of poll workers in Delaware provided no information on whether cases of Covid have been linked to polling stations. The questions concerned only workers’ observations of conditions and practices at 99 polling stations in the state.
The Delaware poll found that most workers and voters wore masks but did not always use them properly to cover their mouths and noses. The voters were less careful than the election workers. Around 73 percent of those surveyed said they had rarely or never seen other election workers wearing masks incorrectly. But only 54 percent of workers surveyed said they rarely or never saw voters use sloppy masks.
The report found that “a significant proportion” of poll workers saw voter misuse of masks. “More information on the proper use of masks, including at polling stations, may be needed to improve the effectiveness of masks in the upcoming elections.”
The C.D.C. suggested that providing masks to voters “could aid the adoption of personal prevention practices”.
Election workers also used hand sanitizer more often than voters.
Nineteen of the 522 workers surveyed had contact with a voter who was sick, with or without a known diagnosis of Covid, the report said. Fifteen of the 19 said they wore masks during that contact, but none wore the other from the C.D.C. recommended protective equipment. for such encounters: face mask, dress, gloves. The survey found that workers had “limited training” in using the equipment.
Election workers generally face several risks: Many are elderly and have health problems make them particularly susceptible to serious illnesses when they sign Covid. And they come in close contact with many people on election days, often closer than the recommended “social distance” of 6 feet to minimize transmission of the virus.
Continued efforts to recruit younger election workers could reduce the proportion of workers at risk for serious cases of Covid, the report said.
In the meantime, the C.D.C. offered a list of ways to minimize the risk to voters: go during off-peak hours, such as mornings; Monitor the voter line from your car and join when the line is short. Fill out all required registration forms in advance and check a ballot at home to cut down on time spent at the polling station. Bring your own black ink stick or pen to use on touchscreen voting devices.