Over 5 million Michiganders are expected to vote in the upcoming November third election.  And while state election officials are predicting that a record number of ballots will be cast before election day, there are still plenty of people who prefer to vote in-person.  But with the on-going pandemic, many are wondering, ‘Is in-person voting safe from COVID-19’?

There are many folks, including some of my patients, who are wondering just how safe in-person voting is.  And the answer is that it can be safe.  But, and this is very important, you have to be very careful and you should follow guidelines.  And even then, there is no guarantee that it will be 100% safe.

What are the guidelines that people should know about?

First of all, Michigan’s Secretary of State has talked about some of this.  Like how election workers will be wearing masks, gloves, and face shields.  And how voters can expect public areas to be sanitized and social distancing protocols to be in place.  And all of that is very helpful.  But you’ll want to know more details than that. For instance:

  • will voters be waiting in lines outside?
  • how many people will be allowed inside at a time?
  • will there be plexiglass between voters and poll workers?
  • and also, is there an entrance door and a different exit door, allowing for one-way traffic?

Now, it’s also important to know the location of your precinct.  If you can, it’s best to avoid high-risk facilities like senior care places.  The safer locations, in general, are places like community recreation centers, convention centers, school gymnasiums, and large parking lots.

I’m sure you’re concerned about long lines inside a building, right? What advice do you have for voters to help keep them safe while at the voting polls?

Yes, you really don’t want to be stuck in a long line inside an enclosed narrow hallway.  The virus especially loves indoor spaces with poor ventilation. So here’s my advice:

  • Try to avoid busy voting times like lunchtime and before or after work hours.  Mid-morning and mid-afternoon tend to be less busy.
  • Next, be sure to wear a face mask.  The best masks are made of cotton and they have two or three layers of fabric.
  • Also, please keep your mask over your nose.  The virus is more likely to enter through your nose because that’s how the majority of us breathe.
  • And lastly, I suggest bringing your own pen, some hand sanitizer, or disinfecting wipes. That way once you’ve used the voting booth, you can clean your hands immediately.