Published on October 26, 2020

Make a Healthy Plan to Vote

We have learned a lot about how to respond to the disruption from our normal lives because of the COVID-19 virus.

We work differently, we play differently, we socialize differently with friends and family, we stay home more and this year, we will vote differently.

Traditionalists may still want to get out to the neighborhood polling place. They may arrive just as the polls opens when voting traffic is lighter. Maybe they walk to the polling place for morning exercise. Or your traditional voting time may be after work.

If you still want to go to the polls as you have in the past, the day is Tuesday, Nov. 3. Voting hours differ in Iowa and Illinois. In Iowa, polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. In Illinois, polling hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

However, with the transmission of COVID-19 continuing throughout the region, voting at your regular polling place is not your safest option.

The safest option may be absentee or voting by mail. You will not be exposed to other voters or poll workers.

Early voting at designated polling places, such as libraries, increases the possibility of contact with others, but you can choose where and what time you vote.

If you wait until Nov. 3 and go to your assigned polling place, experts suggest having a plan to protect your health.

A Safety Plan

You know the recommendations by now: Mask up; keep at least six feet of distance between yourself and others, including the poll workers; and, take your own hand sanitizer.

Your polling site will look much different than usual if you wait until Nov. 3. All the poll workers will be wearing masks and will highly recommend voters wear masks, which will be available. There may also be sneeze guards separating poll workers from voters. There will be hand sanitizer and wipes available.

Social distancing will be practiced at polling sites.

For safety reasons, county election officials are suggesting citizens take advantage of early voting opportunities. You may be sick on Nov. 3 or something may come up that makes it difficult for you to vote at a polling site. On Nov. 3, you will not have access to voting other than at your designated polling place.

Help Limit the Spread

You may have children and would usually take them along when you vote. This time, it might be better to leave children at home to avoid unnecessary family contact with additional people at the polling place.

There may be long lines at your polling place. Be prepared with a drink, a snack, hand sanitizer and your mask. Carry a chair or camp stool and dress appropriately for the weather and a possible wait in line.

Be courteous to other voters.

If you can, get trained as a poll worker and take the day off to work at a polling place.

Genesis Medical Centers will be assisting patients who would not be able to vote in person on Nov. 3. Hospitalized patients will receive a ballot if requested. The ballots will be picked up on Tuesday by representatives of county election officials.