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With Masks Not Mandatory In Polling Locations, Here’s How to Stay Safe

October 29, 2020

It’s countdown to Election Day. If you’re voting in person Nov. 3, you’re exercising your constitutionally guaranteed right.

During COVID-19, however, that constitutional right comes with a significant health-related asterisk: Connecticut’s mask mandate is unenforceable inside the polling place. No registered voter, whether wearing a mask or not, can be prevented from voting.

Wherever you vote (find your polling location here), expect:

  • Current safety guidelines, including wearing a mask and social distancing, still enforced outside the polling location.
  • A free mask if you have forgotten yours. “Wearing a mask is the most inexpensive way to reduce spread of the virus,” says Dr. Faiqa Cheema, a Hartford HealthCare infectious disease specialist.
  • An effort to protect the health of all voters, possibly using separate voting areas, when some refuse to wear a mask or cannot wear one for health reasons. “We will make some accommodations for those folks to make sure that they are not disenfranchised,” says Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill.
  • A possible option to complete your ballot outside the polling location or leave a provisional ballot with a poll worker.
  • All poll workers will wear masks.
  • Strong encouragement to wear a mask inside the polling location.
  • Lots of hand sanitizer.

In the polling place, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests each state:

  • Disinfect surfaces touched frequently by multiple people. Obvious surfaces include door handles, registration tables, pens and clipboards.
  • Clean and disinfect bathrooms, if available, regularly.
  • Discourage voters from using their own wipes to disinfect voting equipment or touching equipment if their hands are still wet with hand sanitizer. This will prevent possible damage to the voting equipment.
  • Increase the distance between voting booths to follow social-distancing guidelines.
  • Use plexiglass or other physical barriers to protect voters and poll workers.