A: Preparation is key! You CAN protect yourself and others while still exercising your right to vote.
Whether you’re voting in person on or before Election Day, read on for what to prepare and how to stay safe while you’re there. While it is not ZERO risk, a few safety protocols can go a long way to reduce the risk!
In short, here’s a quick list of what to bring with you to the polls: appropriate voter ID, mask, hand sanitizer, umbrella, water, and your enthusiasm!
**BEFORE YOU ARRIVE:
1. DOUBLE CHECK your voter registration and polling place: some polling places have changed due to COVID-19, and you don’t want to end up in the wrong line on Election Day! If you are confused about any changes, contact your local election office.
2. REMEMBER REQUIRED ID: Make sure you know your state’s voter ID requirements before you go. As a start, we’ve included two links below to help you determine your state’s rules. Some states require photo ID, others will accept non-photo ID, and some states don’t require any. Don’t forget to bring it with you to the polls!
3. RESEARCH YOUR VOTES: Take the time to know what options you face at the polls to spend less time in the voting booth. Find a sample ballot for your county and read up on the ballot initiatives and local races. Putting in a little time to do this at home helps you to be more prepared to cast an informed vote and makes your voting process quicker. It’s a win-win!
4. MENTALLY PREPARE: You can’t control everything that happens at your polling place. Most states (even the ones with mask mandates) will not require voters to wear a mask to cast a vote. You might encounter voters who don’t want to wear a mask or keep distance, so be prepared to control what you can control, like your own safety precautions. Think ahead to some de-escalation techniques that you could employ if tensions are running high, like keeping your body language calm and listening to others’ concerns with empathy. See the link below for the Crisis Prevention Institute’s top 10 tips for de-escalation.
**AT THE POLLS:
1. AVOID CROWDS: While you can’t control who else is there, try to vote early if you can, which can mean fewer people in line and alleviating congestion on Election Day. For more on early voting, see our previous post linked below. If you decide to vote on Election Day, try to go at times that are less likely to be crowded, and plan a backup time to vote just in case you arrive and there’s a big crowd that makes you feel uncomfortable – it helps to have options!
2. WEAR A MASK! This will help to protect you and others around you. If you have a face shield, feel free to wear it too for eye protection, but it can NOT replace a mask. Wearing both is better! **Remember, you might run into others who are not wearing masks. While it is up to you how you want to cope with this, we recommend trying to add more distance from that person, and perhaps even request to use a different voting machine to avoid being in it directly after someone who is not wearing a mask. Remember those de-escalation techniques and be sure to keep your safety in mind first – we don’t recommend confronting them directly, as it’s not often productive.
3. BE PREPARED TO WAIT: With consolidated polling locations, you may have a longer wait than usual. Come prepared with water or some snacks and don’t forget about the weather! COVID safety precautions have moved more lines and check-in tables outside, so if it’s raining or sunny you might want to bring your umbrella.
4. GET SOME SPACE. Try to stay 6 feet apart from anyone else in line, inside and outside the voting location. When you’re finished, exit quickly – inside is not the place to catch up with your neighbors.
5. WASH THOSE HANDS: Proper hand hygiene is a MUST. Wash your hands before you leave home, and don’t touch your mask or face while you’re waiting in line. If you can, use hand sanitizer right away when you leave the polls, and wash thoroughly with soap and water when you get home.
Election season is almost at an end, and we hope all of you in our community of engaged citizens and infodemic fighters take the time to exercise your right to vote safely. We’re rooting for you!
Stay safe, stay sane,
Those Nerdy Girls
Other Voting Resource Hubs: