Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is providing guidelines for voters and local polling locations to help protect the health of North Carolinians during the voting process.
In addition, NCDHHS and the N.C. Department of Public Safety Division of Emergency Management provided personal protective equipment to local election boards and locations.
North Carolina residents who plan to vote in-person should wear a face mask and keep it on throughout the voting process, stay six feet apart from others while at the polling location, and wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after voting.
“Everyone should make their voting plan, and just like going to the grocery store, take your mask and wait apart from others. I’ll be voting in person during early voting,” said NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy K. Cohen
NCDHHS also issued guidelines to local polling locations to protect people while they vote, work or volunteer at voting locations. Masks are required in public and voting places must have enough masks to provide one to anyone who does not have one. If a voter has an exception for wearing a mask, election workers should try to accommodate them and should not turn voters away.
Election workers at voting locations must routinely clean and disinfect high-touch areas, such as doors, tables and chairs, with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — especially during peak voting times. Many locations are providing single-use pens to voters.
The guidelines, adapted from the CDC’s Considerations for Election Polling Locations and Voters, also require elections officials to post signage at each voting place reminding voters and workers about social distancing by staying at least six feet away from others. Officials are required to provide physical markers, such as tape on floors or signs on walls, to help ensure people remain at least six feet apart.
Additionally, county boards of elections must:
♦ Require election workers and observers to wear a mask when social distancing is or may not be possible, unless they state an exception applies.
♦ Require election workers to encourage people to wear a mask while they vote or campaign and offer masks to those who are not wearing them.
To monitor the health of elections workers, county boards of elections are required to:
♦ Immediately separate and send home election workers who have symptoms when they arrive at work or become sick during the day.
♦ Conduct daily symptom screening of workers before opening the voting place each day.
♦ Post signage at the main entrance asking people who have a fever and/or a cough not to enter.
All 100 county election offices have received gloves and face shields for poll workers; disposable masks for workers and others who do not have a mask; and hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray and paper towels. Anheuser-Busch and McDonald’s donated a portion of the hand sanitizer to the Association of State Election Directors. NCDHHS and NCDPS are providing the rest of the supplies and equipment.
Additionally, the N.C. State Board of Elections is sending single-use pens to county election offices for use as needed.