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Those with COVID-19 can still vote in this election, but are encouraged to do safely

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Posted at 11:25 AM, Nov 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-02 14:25:33-05

There will inevitably be people who want to vote in person who may now be positive for the coronavirus, showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who are quarantining.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reinforced the fact that Americans have the right to vote, regardless of whether they're sick or in quarantine. The agency offered this advice:

"Voters who are sick or in quarantine should take steps to protect poll workers and other voters. This includes wearing a mask, staying at least 6 feet away from others, and washing your hands or using hand sanitizer before and after voting. You should also let poll workers know that you are sick or in quarantine when you arrive at the polling location. Check with local authorities for any additional guidance."

Voter advocacy groups like Common Cause and Spread the Vote spoke with us about various different options.

“So, we really encourage these local election officials to have a way for any voter to vote, regardless of whether or not they have or have been exposed to COVID-19,” said Sylvia Albert, Director of Voting and Elections at Common Cause.

Tennessee for example designated special sites where anyone showing virus symptoms or that tested positive can go to safely cast a ballot away from others.

“So, it might be a voting machine and kind of, you know, another room over there. And if your COVID positive and want to vote in person. And that's the place you would go to make everybody feel safe,” said Albert. “We've seen a lot, but not all states, trying to come up with alternatives and the separate polling site location. It’s a CDC recommendation but it's not something we're seeing a ton of places do it.”

Other states like Kentucky have medical emergency ballots you can request. Some places have curbside voting, which can also be a safe alternative.

Regardless, both groups agree that despite early turnout, there's going to be large groups that want to vote in person on Election Day

“Because there's this real sense of I need to see like my vote, go through the machine and know that it was counted,” said Kat Calvin, founder of Spread the Vote. “I think right now we are all dealing with an incredible situation and how a voter chooses to vote really should be a personal decision.”

If you have questions about access to voting or come across voter intimidation. The hotline to call is 1-866-OUR-VOTE. It will be staffed with legal experts waiting to help.