Can you vote in person if you are currently recovering from Covid-19 or quarantining from being exposed to the virus?
Yes, says the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in an email to CNN.
“CDC’s recommendations for isolating someone who has Covid-19 or quarantining someone who was in close contact with a person with Covid-19 would not preclude them from exercising their right to vote,” a CDC spokesperson wrote in an email on Monday.
“In-person voting can be carried out safely following CDC’s recommendations for polling location and voters,” according to the spokesperson.
Voters who are sick or in quarantine should should let poll workers know about their condition when arriving at the polling location. They should also take steps to protect poll workers and other voters:
- Wearing a mask
- Staying at least 6 feet away from others
- Washing hands or using hand sanitizer before and after voting
Poll workers who are assisting voters with symptoms should be provided with personal protective equipment – including respiratory protection, face shields, gowns, and gloves – and trained to use it appropriately.
“When possible, alternative voting options – which minimize contact between voters and poll workers – should be made available for people with Covid-19, those who have symptoms of Covid-19, and those who have been exposed,” the spokesperson said.
The CDC website describes alternative voting options as a “designated polling site or curbside voting for sick voters.”
“Post signs to discourage anyone with symptoms from entering the polling location buildings and provide voting options for those with symptoms. Ensure that any signage is accessible to voters with disabilities, for example by providing large print or braille versions or having audible messages with the same information,” the CDC website states.
Curbside voting is available in some states. If you are lucky enough to have that option, be sure the election workers are wearing gloves, a face shield and a face mask before you lower your window.
Here are five more tips for a safer voting experience.
1. Spend most of your wait outdoors
Standing outdoors is definitely safer than indoors because any airflow helps dissipate the virus. Try to find a voting location that keeps indoor waits to a minimum.
The safest locations will be large sites with good ventilation, such as school gymnasiums, community recreation centers, convention centers and large parking lots, according to the Brennan Center and the Infectious Diseases Society of America guidelines.
2. Vote at a less busy time of day
If you can aim for midmorning or early- to midafternoon, you may encounter fewer lines. Do a drive-by to check line length before parking and going in.
Stay in touch with local friends on Facebook or a neighborhood site like Nextdoor. People will often post updates about crowds at different times of the day, which you can use to plan your trip.
3. Carefully choose your mask
Be picky about your mask. Don’t wear anything you can hold up and see through. In fact, studies have shown that cotton masks with two or three layers of fabric are more protective than single-ply masks or bandanas. A recent study found bandanas and gaiter masks to be least effective in protection.
Be sure to cover your nose as well as your mouth with the mask at all times.
4. Follow social distancing rules
Standing at least 6 feet apart is fast becoming the norm today – or should be – to help protect ourselves and others from the virus. That’s especially critical if people around you are not wearing masks.
5. Bring sanitizer, pen, water
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Along with that highly protective mask, you should definitely bring disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizer with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropyl alcohol, according to the CDC. That’s the level needed to kill most coronaviruses.
Since a long wait in line is likely, be sure to bring water and possibly a folding chair. And don’t forget to bring your own blue or black pen in case you need to sign something or decide to fill out your absentee ballot and drop it there. You must use blue or black ink for your vote to be counted.