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Elections department guidelines and safety measures for keeping voters safe during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 3:52 PM, Oct 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-27 13:36:04-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The general election is just eight days away. While some have already turned in their mail-in ballots, some have chosen to vote in-person.

"I'm 80-years-old and I don't want to get COVID if I don't have to," said poll worker John Ahrens.

Poll workers like Ahrens have some concerns about COVID-19 on election day, and you might too.

23ABC asked the Kern County Elections Office about what guidelines have been set in place to help protect voters and staff from the virus.

They say they'll wipe down voting booth tables as well the pens in between voters with disinfectant. They will also clean common touch areas such as door handles or precinct tables.

The Kern County Public Health Department is also encouraging voters to maintain social distancing guidelines while out at the polls.

"We just want to remind everyone, wear a face covering, stay six feet away from others," said Michelle Corson of the health department.

Hand sanitizer and face masks will also be offered to every voter upon entry.

If a voter does not want to wear a mask at the poll site, they can curbside vote, where a poll worker will bring a roster and ballot to the voter's car. There will also be a separate area at the poll site for voters without masks.

In a statement from the kern county elections office, they stated that: "Voting is a constitutional right. We cannot deny voters their constitutional right to vote because they are not wearing a mask. We will comply with CDC guidelines to protect voters on election day, including physical distancing and disinfecting and encouraging mask-wearing."

"There are many ways to vote, but if you decide to go in person, if you are just practicing the safety protocols that you do at any place that you go, you should feel very comfortable going," said Corson.

Beginning Monday, the elections office will have extended hours, staying open until 7 p.m. this week. Voters are encouraged to make an appointment but walk-ins will also be accepted.