ADA COUNTY, Idaho — Election officials are trying to keep Idaho voters and poll workers safe from COVID-19, while also keeping the election secure and fair for everybody.
The Nov. 3 election is now just days away and people across the state will want to make sure their voice is heard in this election. So what do voters do if they're planning to vote in person, but test positive for COVID-19 between now and election day?
This event isn’t like others that can just be postponed.
“We just postpone or delay an activity if that happens, right? You stay at home and you quarantine. Unfortunately, the election is not going to be delayed,” Ada County Clerk Phil McGrane said.
It's now too late to request an absentee ballot in Idaho. This means people will have to vote in person.
In Ada County, that'll be at a specific location for everyone who is COVID-19 positive or has come into close contact with someone who has recently tested positive. McGrane is not releasing the location to the public.
“We are sending people that we know to be sick to this location so we're really trying to limit it to just those people who need it,” he said. “Whether they tested positive or are presumed positive because they've had extensive exposure to someone who recently tested positive. We don't want any voters self-determining they need to go it.”
The COVID-19 polling location will have extra precautions in place to keep everyone safe.
“It’s effectively a drive-up voting situation, so if you picture the drive-up testing sites for COVID right now, it will look very similar to that in many ways,” McGrane said.
Ada County Elections is partnering with firefighters who are comfortable being around people who have COVID-19. There will also be members of the elections team on-site to facilitate things and make sure it runs smoothly. The location will have tents, people gowned up outside, and masks.
“In an effort to take advantage of the open air and allow someone to be able to vote without potentially exposing our poll workers or the people assisting," McGrane said.
Not all counties are offering up a COVID-specific polling location. Canyon County precincts will have curbside voting for those who have either tested positive for the virus or who have come into close contact with someone who has.
Voters can either ring a bell or call a number to let poll workers know that they want to vote in their car.
Curbside voting will also be available in Payette, Elmore, and Gem counties. Clerks are asking voters to provide proper notice by calling the elections office before they arrive.
In addition to giving the elections office a heads up, poll workers will still check voter registration upon arrival.
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