Yesterday elections were held under difficult circumstances as the nation copes with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. We saw polling places closed or open late as many poll workers failed to show up— resulting in long lines of voters that violate the CDC social distancing guidelines. One state even shut down in-person voting within hours of the time polls were set to open.
This confusion does not give voters the confidence they need to safely participate in our elections. With many states yet to hold primaries, there is still time to make sure voters can safely cast their ballots.
LWV is working with states on their options to make voting more flexible for this primary season. We are calling on all states to expand no-excuse absentee voting and mail-in ballots, as well as in-person early voting opportunities for the duration of the 2020 election cycle. In light of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, it is imperative for state election officials to address voters’ and poll workers’ fears by limiting the need to cast an in-person ballot and reducing long lines when voting in person.
We have seen elected officials in many states step up on behalf of voters, taking precautions for poll workers, partnering across the aisle, and calling for more flexibility in voting. These actions demonstrate our ability to come together as a country.
Our top priority must be the health and safety of the American people while simultaneously upholding the rights of all voters. With elections continuing to approach in the weeks ahead, we’re sharing the advice we shared with Arizona, Florida, and Illinois earlier this week to keep in mind as you go to the polls:
Make an Election Day plan.
Confirm your polling place (some have closed or changed) and check your voting hours at VOTE411.org. We’ll be keeping VOTE411 up to date with any last-minute changes related to the virus that may impact election administration.
Vote at non-peak hours.
We are all familiar with crowds and long lines on Election Day. Limit your interaction with the public by planning to vote during non-peak hours, like the middle of the morning and afternoon.
Find out what's on your ballot & know before you go.
Shorten your time at the polls by doing your research in advance. Check out what candidates think about the issues and learn about ballot measures you might be voting on in advance at VOTE411.org.
Take extra precautions.
Polling stations are reportedly stocking up on hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, but voters should bring their own when possible. Wearing plastic gloves or covering your hands when touching communal surfaces can cut down on exposure. Use your own pen when filling out paper ballots and incorporate social distancing (at least six feet apart) when waiting in lines.
Check current voting options.
Voters with upcoming primary elections who want to limit their exposure to crowds should request an absentee ballot now. Visit VOTE411.org and click on your state to find the rules for your state.
No matter how you vote, we want to ensure everyone has the information they need to participate in our elections and to do so safely.