Decision 2020

Polling Precautions During COVID-19

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With a little more than three weeks to go until Election Day, thousands of poll workers across the Bay Area are getting the training they need to prepare for Election Day 2020, and this year, that looks a lot different than it did in the past. 

This Election, polling stations in Alameda County will have more than just stacks of absentee ballots and voter registration forms. 

This time, there will be stacks of face masks and plastic gloves, which will be handed out to voters who want to cast their ballots in person. 

“We’ll be offering all the PPE that we can in order for them to vote safely,” said Tim Dupuis, Alameda County Registrar.

This year, Election Day has transformed into Election Month. In Alameda County, registration is at an all-time high. In Napa County, registrar John Tuteur has never seen this many early ballots cast.  

“We’re going to have a very big percentage of the vote counted, hopefully over 50% maybe close to 60% on election night,” said Tuteur.   

For the first time ever, an overwhelming number of volunteers in Alameda County jumped at the chance to work at a polling station on Election Day. 

“We have 4,800 people who have volunteered for the 1,700 spots,” said Dupuis. 

Napa County is still looking for pandemic prevention volunteers who will be assigned to each voting center. 

“They will be controlling the flow of voters, making sure that we don’t get overcrowded inside,” said Tuteur. 

Poll workers are getting trained on how to handle a voter who wants to vote in-person and refuses to wear a mask. 

“We will tell them if they are not wearing a mask, they cannot jeopardize the health of other voters or our folks that are workers and we will bring the voting to them instead of them coming to us,” said Tureur.

In Alameda County, if a voter who does not wear a mask insists on voting in person, that voter will be asked to wait outside until staff can set up a booth that is safely away from others. 

“We’ll make sure that equipment is completely wiped down and sterilized for the next voter,” said Tureur. 

Also new this year – election officials could be counting votes for more than two weeks after Election Day. Ballots postmarked by Election Day will be counted as long as they arrive by November 20. 

“Especially these races that are close, we’re going to see that those votes that we count after Election Day are going to become very important to those races,” said Dupuis. 

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