Protecting the polls for voters from COVID-19 during the pandemic

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Polls will open Saturday across New York State for people wishing to cast a ballot before Election Day.

Early voting will look a lot like primary voting in June in terms of the measures the Boards of Elections are taking to protect voters during the pandemic.

“We were very proud of how our inspectors handled the June primaries when the virus was even more active,” says Dustin Czarny, Democratic elections commissioner for Onondaga County.

All voters will be required to wear a mask in order to cast a ballot in the upcoming election.

Republican Onondaga County Elections Commissioner Michele Sardo says, “I don’t foresee any issues, I think people will be okay with the masks but if you forget your mask we will have masks available.”

Czarny tells NewsChannel 9, “After you sign in on a poll pad it’s going to get wiped down and the table in front of it is going to get wiped down. After you vote your privacy sleeve and your pen that you use will get wiped down, the voting station that you were at will get wiped down.”

They suggest not bringing your own pen to fill out your ballot because they’re just not sure how the machines will read those marks.

“We have specially designed Sharpies that our ImageCast machines pick up better than a regular pen or anything like that. We will be collecting those Sharpies and wiping them down in between each use,” Czarny explains.

Sardo adds, “And we have gloves and sanitizing wipes so everything will be available for the voter if they chose that they want to wipe something down also.”

With so many people expected to vote in person, both elections commissioners say to be patient, even though Onondaga County has had an overwhelming response in polling inspectors.

Czarny says, “We have even more people that are available to help and make sure these polling sites are kept clean so even though we’re going to see an overwhelming turnout we believe we can keep up with it.”

If you’d rather just vote absentee, the deadline to request a ballot by mail is Tuesday, Oct. 27. Click here for more information.

If you get an absentee ballot you can still choose not to use it and go to the polls.

Even if you fill out the absentee ballot and send it back in, you can still vote at the polls. When they go to count absentees your absentee ballot will be pulled and not counted.


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