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Safe voting in the time of COVID-19


More than 6,000 Norwalk Democrats and Republicans will be voting by Absentee Ballot in the August 11, 2020 Presidential Primary, but those ballots must be returned to the Town Clerk by 8 p.m. on August 11 — today — to be counted. At this point, you need to take any remaining absentee ballots to one of the two “drop boxes” which are located at Norwalk City Hall, and at the South Norwalk Police Station, right in front of the main entrance to the building in both cases. Any ballot deposited there by 8 p.m. on Tuesday will be in time.

Of course, there will still be voting at Norwalk’s 12 federal election polling places on August 11 from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.. We have made a number of COVID-19 related changes to protect both voters and poll workers.

First, and most important, voters will be asked to wear a mask when voting, We will have a limited supply of masks available for voters who did not bring one.  Every effort will be made to reduce exposure to other voters and to poll workers by keeping your voting time to a minimum. There will be a hand sanitizing station upon entry to the polling place and additional hand washing and cleaning available upon exit. We will mark six foot distancing by masking tape “X”s on the floor and voting booths will be placed at least 6 feet apart rather than the usual 3 feet. Talking creates more potentially virus-containing aerosols than simply breathing, so please keep talking to a minimum.

When entering the voting room, follow the markings to the checker table for your party. The checker will be behind a table screen. Announce your street address and name so that the checker can mark you on the list as voting “in person.” The checker will have a long tray for you to use to pass your ID to the checker while maintaining a safe distance. This will allow the checker to inspect your ID without touching it and then return it to you.

The adjacent Ballot Clerk will slide you a ballot while maintaining as much distance as possible and with as little touching of the ballot as possible. The Ballot Clerk will have gloves, either full hand or finger gloves. There will be clean pens available, or you may use your own pen, or the one in each voting booth. Privacy folders will be available for those who want one.

At the voting booth, you will mark your vote on your ballot and then take your ballot to the tabulator and ballot box to cast it, i.e. slide it into the tabulator for counting. Return your marking pen and privacy sleeve at the tabulator tender table where they will be sanitized for later voters. Dispose of gloves and other refuse on the way out and remember to sanitize your hands again then too.

The polls are laid out to minimize your contacts with both the poll workers and other voters. Consequently, your trip to the polls should be quicker and safer than most current in-person shopping trips. Remember, we do NOT have the personnel for curb service “in your car” voting, except for those few voters who legitimately cannot get into the polling place because of last minute illness or disability.

All of the poll workers will have masks and face shields and table shields will be provided for the poll worker stations. Not all poll worker functions can be carried out behind a desk and at a six-foot distance, which is where the face shields are important.

This is a Presidential Primary only and so you should be able to vote in about 5 minutes, total. However, the poll workers will spend all day in the polls. Please wear your mask and do your best to protect them along with your fellow voters.

(Norwalk’s Safe Polls Plan was developed jointly by the Registrars,  but Brian Smith, the Republican Registrar has not seen the {somewhat rushed} final draft of these comments, as we were both without electrical power at home for several days due to the storm and so there was insufficient time.)


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