Polling places to have enhanced safety precautions Tuesday to stop COVID-19 spread

Polling places throughout Minnesota will have enhanced safety protocols in place for Tuesday’s election to help reduce the risk of COVID-19.

"We reviewed all of our polling places to make sure we would have polling places where we could spread out," said Ramsey County Elections Manager David Triplett. "Historically, if we would vote in a classroom, this year we wanted the gym. Usually, if lines were to form down a hallway, this year we would like our lines to form outside."

Triplett said precincts in Ramsey County have hand sanitizer stations, plexiglass barriers and six-foot markers on the floor so voters keep the appropriate distance.

He said masks will be required and they will have extra on hand for voters who forget to bring them.

N95 masks, goggles and gloves will be provided to poll workers.

KSTP’s 2020 election coverage

Triplett said voting booths will be disinfected regularly, but in general, they are trying to reduce the number of touch-points throughout the polling place.

"We ordered 350,000 pens, so we needed to make sure we had a pen for every voter in Ramsey County. The good thing about elections is there’s always another one, so those pens will go to good use in future elections as well," Triplett said.

Triplett said he is also encouraged by the large number of younger residents who signed up to work the polls on Election Day during a year when older adults are in the at-risk category for COVID-19.

"Since March, our average election judge signup has been under 40 years of age. When we went into this year, our average election judge in Ramsey County was 68 years of age, so looking at those data points, we’re really seeing a lot of younger people sign up," Triplett said.

He said he does not anticipate large crowds on Election Day, since many people in the county voted early.

"Two-thirds of our voters have already voted, which means there’s not going to be as high of traffic at our polling places," Triplett said.

If you are planning to vote in person and want to avoid the crowds, the Minnesota Department of Health recommends heading to the polls at an off-peak time, such as mid-morning.

State health officials said the risk of getting COVID-19 at a polling place is about the same as at the grocery store.

Click here for more information on voting safely in Minnesota.