The COVID-19 crisis has affected nearly all aspects of American life, and elections are no different. Summarizing national think tank “The Brennan Center” in their response to the coronavirus, “Unlike a hurricane, a pandemic does not have a discrete and relatively predictable end point. And avoiding large-scale social contact is a central feature of combating the crisis. These elements create distinct challenges for election officials on top of the significant and ongoing threats to the security of our election infrastructure.”
Unfortunately, the term “challenge” might be an understatement. Polling places are typically located in settings that facilitate the spread of germs, such as schools or churches, and long lines can make it difficult to socially distance. In addition, many volunteer poll workers are older, retired Americans who are already at risk of contracting the virus. When you consider that a typical voter might encounter 20 other people when they go to the polls, and a typical poll worker might encounter 700 voters, it’s hard not to ask the question: is it safe to vote in person?
Though balancing the health and safety of the public while also ensuring the functioning of the democratic process is no small task, in many jurisdictions, in-person voting must take place. The experts at The Brennan Center warn, should polling places close, voters who lack access to mail or to the Internet, those who require language assistance to vote, and voters with disabilities who need voting machines to cast a private, independent ballot could be disenfranchised. Therefore, to ensure everyone can vote, jurisdictions should make every effort possible to keep polling places open and safe for both voters and election workers, and to prevent long lines and widespread confusion in November.
To help address these challenges, Congress recently allocated $400 million from the CARES Act to states to help cover the anticipated costs of holding an election in the midst of a global pandemic. In addition, CDC guidelines for preventing transmission of COVID-19 at polling places also help ensure every eligible American can register and vote safely, securely, accessibly, and conveniently; and to protect election workers’ safety. These guidelines fall into five categories, one of which is “polling place modification and preparation,” the protocols of which include:
- Equip polling places with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Reinforce the use of masks among all workers
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and voting-associated equipment
- Replace shared objects, such as pens, with single-use objects
- Ensure adequate supplies to promote healthy hygiene behaviors
Poll Worker PPE Made Easy
Anyone who has tried to order Clorox wipes in the last four months knows that while guidelines might encourage regular hygiene and sanitation, successfully securing the necessary supplies is almost as challenging as defeating the virus itself. For many local clerks and election administrators, sourcing enough masks, sanitizer, wipes, gloves, and more to protect poll workers and voters in time for election day is proving difficult, and those unable to have an adequate quantity of the necessary supplies on hand may have to limit the number of polling places in their jurisdictions – impacting voters’ ability to cast their vote in this year’s election. Worse still, it can be hard to know which types of supplies to purchase. Certain “off the shelf” wipes, for example, can damage expensive voting machines.
Fortunately, Inclusion Solutions has done the legwork for election administrators nationwide. Determined to be a one-stop shop for election needs, we’ve sourced all necessary supplies in accordance with The Brennan Center’s recommendations and CDC guidelines. This patent-pending, Precinct Infection Kit includes everything officials need packaged in convenient kit form, to improve the sanitation of polling places including:
For Poll Workers
- Disinfectant antibacterial wipes
- 20 pairs of sanitary protective gloves
- 20 surgical masks
- 10 micro poll worker hand sanitizer kits
- 1 voter handheld sanitizer pump bottle
- 10 isopropyl alcohol screen wipes
- 3 microfiber cloths
- 10 sanitary headset covers
- Instructions on how to disinfect consistent with CDC guidelines, voting system manufacturer recommendations, and health care professional best practices
- Precinct sign displaying protective efforts
We have worked with voting machine manufacturers, medical professionals, and industry experts to create this integrated solution that includes everything states’ jurisdictions need to protect poll workers and voters – and we still have supplies on hand!
Enable Voters to Safely Cast Ballots in Person
As the number of coronavirus cases continues to climb and the country prepares for the potential of a “second wave” of cases in the fall just before the elections, Inclusion Solutions is your partner in ensuring your polling locations have taken all necessary precautions to ensure elections will be conducted safely and efficiently in November.
To learn more about Inclusion Solutions’ Precinct Infection Kit, contact one of our experts today.