One Lakewood Progress: Your COVID-19 Voter Safety Questions Answered
With the 2020 Presidential Election fast approaching, I asked community members to submit questions and concerns about voter safety for in-person voting on election day. After speaking with representatives at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, I have compiled an FAQ, in-person voter packing checklist.
As a public health professional, I have strongly recommended that patients and community members vote early and/or by mail since the beginning of the year. However, with time running out and the public health situation surrounding COVID-19 changing rapidly, I cannot stress enough that in order to ensure greater infection safety while voting in-person this year, you should consider voting early at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections office.
Election Day Voter Packing Checklist and Safety Tips
There is a shortage of election poll workers across the country this year. Because of this, wait times may increase at your voting location. Make sure to allow yourself some extra time for a possible wait in line and dress appropriately for the weather when voting in-person. Remember, if you are in line by poll closing time at 7:30pm, you still have the right to cast your vote.
Make sure you bring these things with you when you go to vote in-person:
- Ohio Driver’s License, Voter ID or other acceptable form of identification;
- Cloth mask or face covering (bring two so you have a backup in case you lose one);
- Several disposable cloths or paper towels for grabbing door handles;
- Hand Sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol);
- Snacks and Water;
- Warm, comfortable clothes;
- Pen (in case they don’t have sanitized ones at your polling location); and
- COVID-19 Pocket Safety Voter Guide.
Nice to Have:
- Fully charged cell phone and power bank;
- Portable chair;
- Portable blanket; and a
- Plan for rain (umbrella, hat or poncho).
Tips for Staying Healthy While Voting in Person
- Make sure to wear your mask, and have hand sanitizer, snacks, and water available.
- Follow signs and instructions for healthy voting at your voting location.
- Don’t try to clean the voting booth yourself. Ask an election worker.
- Sanitize your hands before and after voting; Wash your hands after you get home from voting with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. Refrain from touching your face.
- Consider going to vote when your polling location will not be as busy (usually mid morning or just after lunch).
- Practice social distancing and stay at least 6 feet away from poll workers and other voters.
COVID-19 Voting FAQ
Q1. Will my polling location check for a fever like they do at the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections Office? If I have a fever, will I still be able to vote?
A. As of this writing, representatives from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (BOE) were not able to provide a guarantee that temperatures will be taken at every community polling location on election day. If you vote early at the BOE, you can guarantee that temperatures for all voters will be taken. The BOE has designated a quarantine area for those with elevated temperatures to cast their vote, and also offers curbside voting.
Q2. If I test positive for COVID-19, will I still be able to vote on election day?
A. I was transferred to an election official to ask this question and as of this writing, have not yet received a response. A representative at the BOE did confirm that curbside voting can be an option for a COVID positive patient if voting early at the BOE office. If you suspect that you might have COVID-19, please disclose this information in advance so accommodations can be made for you to vote. Call (216) 443-VOTE (8683) to talk to a representative before traveling to the BOE office. Don’t wait.
Q3. If I don’t receive my vote by mail ballot by Election Day, will I still be able to vote in-person?
A. Yes! If you choose to vote early at the BOE office your vote-by-mail ballot request will be converted to a regular ballot. However, if you choose to vote at your local polling location on election day you will have to cast a provisional ballot. If you are worried about receiving your vote by mail ballot in time and do not want to cast a provisional ballot, it might be best to consider early in-person voting at the BOE, located at 2925 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115.
Q4. If I mail my absentee ballot back, how much postage should I attach?
A. It costs 70 cents, or two first class postage stamps, to mail back a vote by mail ballot. One stamp will not do. Save a stamp by dropping off your vote-by-mail ballot in the dropbox in the BOE parking lot, or at the second designated ballot drop off location.
Q5. I didn’t know there was a second ballot drop off location. Where is it?
A. The second drop-off location is across the street from the BOE on East 30th and Chester at Campus International High School parking lot. The site will have teams of bipartisan election workers taking ballots as voters drive through. Voters must enter through the school's parking lot on East 30th Street, stay to the right and drive up to the collection site to meet the team members and drop off their ballot. Voters will exit by making a right turn onto Chester Avenue.
The auxiliary drop-off location will be open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m on October 13-16 and October 19-23. It will be open on Saturday, October 24 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sunday, October 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The location will then be open from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. from October 26-30.