ATLANTA - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Americans infected with the coronavirus and those who are quarantining after being exposed to someone with the virus may vote in person on Tuesday.
The Atlanta-based health agency is asking those voters to alert poll workers when they arrive at their voting center, wear a mask and stay 6 feet away from other voters.
If you are not sick but are planning to cast your ballot in person, you will want to extra careful.
The lines for early voting have shattered records across the US, with 91 million Americans casting their ballot by November 1, 2020.
Microbiologist Dr. Amber Schmidtke, Ph.D., says, the huge turnout has given us a practice run for how to vote safely in the middle of a pandemic.
"Just make sure you're wearing that mask and doing all the things we're asking you to do because this has the potential to be a transmission risk for folks, and we want to try to limit that as much as we can," Schmidtke says.
Before you head to your voting center on Tuesday, read up on the races and look up a sample ballot online, so you know what to expect.
That will help you reduce the amount of time you spend voting.
Masks, as Schmidtke says, are going to be a must to keep yourself and others safe.
They are not required but are being highly encouraged at many voting sites.
Keeping your distance from other voters will also be important.
Workers at many voting sites have marked off spots every 6 feet, to separate voters waiting in line and try to limit the spread of the virus.
And the CDC has created a checklist of items to bring with you, including:
- Your ID
- A mask
- Hand sanitizer, containing at least 60% alcohol
- A black ink pen
- A sample ballot, or registration forms
If you can, vote in the mid-morning or early-afternoon Tuesday when the polls are typically the least busy.
You do not need to wear gloves, but the CDC says you should try to avoid touching surfaces you do not have to touch.
If you bring your own stylus to use, ask poll workers if it's okay to use it.
Some voting centers are handing out disposable styluses.
The CDC is advising voters not to wipe down voting machines, which could damage them.
"Fortunately, we really thought that the inanimate surface exposure was going to be really significant with COVID-19, and it really hasn't been, like it is with influenza," Amber Schmidtke says. "It's more of a respiratory droplet and an airborne transmission thing."
Still, she says, when you are finished casting your vote, clean your hands.
"I would immediately wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth," Schmidtke says.
If all of these tips seem like a lot to remember, focus on 3 key things: wear your mask, stay 6 feet apart from others, and wash or sanitize your hands before and after you vote.