TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) — Ahead of Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, Tennessee’s coordinator of elections has approved for county election offices to serve as designated voting sites for those who have COVID-19.
The plan was developed back in April and executed in August. It had to be re-issued for the November election.
While the director of elections is not directly encouraging people with COVID-19 to vote, the office wants to give people an opportunity to do so if they choose.
“If they come out and vote we want to make sure that we keep everyone healthy that’s including the poll officials as well as voters,” said Tennessee’s Director of Elections Mark Goins. “You don’t want them with general voters. You want to segregate them as much as possible.”
Anyone who has symptoms of the virus or is in quarantine due to exposure can also vote at these locations. Goins suggests talking with a healthcare provider before making your decision.
Just as someone who would vote at their designated voting location, identification is required before casting your vote on a paper ballot.
“When we were doing our training and working with health officials we did take into account folks can’t really pull their masks down in a safe environment with what we currently have going on in COVID-19 in a normal polling location. So, we’ve trained individuals to look around the mask for facial features and those things to identify the individual,” said Goins.
Additional personal protective equipment has been provided for those working these sites which were modeled after COVID-19 testing sites.
“For these sites, that includes someone wearing a gown, they’ll have a facemask, a face shield, they’ll have gloves and we have plenty of sanitizer for individuals as well,” Goins said.
Election workers who are facilitating these locations do not have to sign a liability form but will be paid more.
“We want specialized poll officials who are ready to handle individuals that have COVID to vote the individuals that do show up on Election Day,” Goins said. “It will be very close to the election commission office. It’s going to be in that vicinity because the law allows us to designate these in election commissions.”
According to Goins, all 95 counties in the state will have a certain location for COVID-19 voters. He has suggested that the set-up be outside if weather permits.
Washington and Unicoi counties will have tents set up outside of their election commission offices.
“We’re going to have a tent set up outside so they won’t be coming into the office at all. They’ll be doing everything either from their car or under the tent,” said Unicoi County Election Administrator Sarah Fain. “We’re going to try to do most of the information gathering questions over the phone. We obviously don’t want to get in a case where we have more than one person here at a time and we want to be able to get the vote cast as quickly as possible to minimize exposure time.”
To vote at a Covid-19 designated voting location, call your local county election commission.