Voting safety becomes a major priority for local clerks as they prepare for August primary

CADILLAC — With the August primary just a few days away, clerks are preparing to make in-person voting as safe as possible amid the coronavirus.

While absentee ballot numbers are up, many voters are expected to cast their votes at the poll on Tuesday. For those heading out to vote, the Center for Disease Control has guidelines for those working and voters.

“Personal prevention practices (such as handwashing, staying home when sick) and environmental cleaning and disinfection are important actions election officials, poll workers, and voters can take to help lower the risk of COVID-19 spread,‘ according to the CDC’s website.

Guidelines include adding signs to remind voters and workers to wear face coverings while inside, maintain the six feet between themselves and others at the polls, and having hand sanitizer readily available and frequently placed throughout the polling location and cleaning stations as often as possible.

The CDC also does not recommend voters bring their own sanitation wipes as they may damage electronic voting machines and should allow election workers to clean the station.

District Health Department No. 10 Communications Coordinator and Public Information Officer Jeannine Taylor said it is up to the individual coordinators to make sure guidelines are followed.

“It is really up to the polling coordinators and volunteers to see to it that the safety guidelines are implemented and followed by the public,‘ she said. “If these measures are followed, the risk for getting or spreading COVID should be low.‘

And local clerks are doing all they can to make sure that public safety is a priority this election.

“It is going to look very different, that’s for sure,‘ City of Evart Clerk Kathy Fiebig. “We are hoping that voters comply with wearing face coverings and social distancing. But we are making sure we have the equipment and cleaning supplies needed to keep voting as smooth and as safe as possible.‘

City of Cadillac Clerk Sandra Wasson said the clerk’s office and election workers will be doing everything they can to keep voters distanced from one another.

“All the booths are going to be spaced six feet apart from one another and there will be markings on the floor for people to know where to stand and wait while keeping social distancing in mind,‘ Wasson said. “We even got a seven-foot-tall barrier to place between voters coming in and the tale of election workers who are checking people in and distributing ballots.‘

Fiebig added she has a table solely dedicated to personal protection equipment like masks and face shields, cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer. She has also brought on more election workers for this primary to make sure stations can be wiped down and cleaned after each use.

“We have lots of pens, lots of wipes and lots of spray bottles to make sure everything is as clean as possible for each voter,‘ she said.

For those voting in Evart, Fiebig said voters will notice several changes like oneway traffic through the depot and an alternative voting option for those who do not want to wear a mask while voting.

“(...) We hope that everyone wears a mask, but for those who don’t, we will give them the option to vote from their vehicle,‘ she said. Election workers will go out with them, verify their ID and take their ballot back inside when they are done.‘

Fiebig said it is important to note no one will be turned away from a polling place should they not want to utilize an alternative voting method.

For those voting in Cadillac’s second precinct, there is a new voting location to be able to maintain social distancing, Wasson said.

“Normally the second precinct votes in the council chambers but it is just too small,‘ Wasson said. “So if anyone is voting in the second precinct, we have them voting in the fire department bay.‘

The key to getting through this August Primary, Wasson said, is patience.

“Everyone is going to have to be patient and be prepared to wait to vote,‘ she said. “It’s going to take a little more time to get everyone through the polls and voters are going to have to be patient.‘

Cadillac News