Worker and voter safety taken into consideration
When the citizens of Pike County head to the polls in two weeks, they should know that the county is doing everything it can to ensure their safety during this time.
The changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have people concerned about catching the virus and has forced at least one change in a polling venue.
“We’re working with the secretary of state’s office, who received some federal funding, which was passed down to the county level,” said County Clerk Susie Oberdahloff, allowing them to put into practice safety guidelines for voters and the workers who will be staffing the polling places. In fact, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft had dropped off equipment Friday morning to help with the election.
She noted that it’s been a challenge trying find everything they need to keep the polling places as clean as possible for voters and workers.
“Everyone and their brother has been out buying disinfectant wipes,” she said. “We were able to get quite a few things.”
“Nothing is going to be mandatory,” she said. “It’s up to the individual if he or she wants to wear a mask when voting or working at the polls.” They will have masks and gloves available for the workers and will be cleaning the voting stations after each use. There will be hand sanitizer available at all times. They even have throwaway markers for the voters. The polling stations will be set apart, and their will be markers on the floor, so that when people line up they will stay at least 6 feet apart from other voters.
“If a person comes in and asks for something, we will provide it,” she added.
Plexiglas shields, like stores and retail outlets have put in place, will be in use at the polling stations where the public comes in to sign in to pick up their voting ballot.
“I think everyone has got it in their heads what 6 feet is,” Oberdahloff said. “We’ve had signs made to remind people, and we’re only allowing 10 people in the room at a time.”
“We don’t want anybody to say, ‘I didn’t go vote because there wasn’t any kind of protection provided for us,” she said.
They had thought about doing drive through voting, she said, but the logistics were too difficult. Instead, she noted, if someone requests it, a ballot would be brought out to his or her vehicle for that person.
In the past, just getting poll workers signed up, was somewhat time consuming. With the fear brought on by the pandemic, Oberdahloff said, they thought it would be even harder to get people to commit for the work.
“We started a little earlier than usual,” she said in seeking out poll workers. But it wasn’t that hard getting workers for the polling stations.
“I think we had maybe two that said they were scared,” Oberdahloff said. But they had done a blitz campaign to get new workers, which received a good response.
“We have several new workers this time around,” she added. “Everyone has been very cooperative, and I hope one of the reasons is they realize what we’re providing to look after their safety.”
At least one polling place had to be changed because the church, which had been disinfected, didn’t want to go through the cleaning process again before opening up for regular services. Voters who had been voting at Indian-precinct R-S, New Harmony Church will now vote at the Curryville Presbyterian Church.
“That’s fine,” she said. “It’s their option. But it was easy to combine it with another one close to that location.”
Polling places are listed on the county’s website.
Oberdahloff said she thought there would have been more absentee voting for this election, but the numbers have been fairly consistent with previous elections before the pandemic.