DHHR recommendations for safe polling locations released for 2020 General Election

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – Thanks to the safeguards put into place by the state and local officials, no cases of COVID-19 were attributed to West Virginia’s June Primary Election. Secretary of State Mac Warner said his team and the county clerks are again working towards the same goal for the November General Election.

According to Warner, his office, the HAVA Grant Board, State Election Commission, and the state’s 55 county clerks are working closely to administer more than $2 million in federal funds to counties for protecting the health and safety of poll workers, voters, and the general public when voting in the General Election.

Statewide, there are more than 1,700 voting precincts. Warner said personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves, and face shields, will be purchased and available for every poll worker. Cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer were secured for regularly cleaning voting equipment, surfaces, and keeping polling locations safe.

“Our number one priority is to keep every poll worker and every voter safe from COVID-19,” Warner said. “A lot of preparation has taken place behind the scenes, and our counties are prepared to hold another safe election in November.”

Warner and his staff have been working with the WV Department of Health & Human Resources (DHHR) to develop public guidelines for election workers and voters. Those guidelines were approved and released this week. To view the DHHR document, click here.

Included in the guidelines is the requirement for face coverings imposed by Executive Order 50-20. Specifically, face coverings must be worn by “[a]ll individuals age 9 and over . . . when in confined, indoor spaces . . . and when not able to adequately social distance from other individuals who do not reside in the same household.” To view the executive order, click here.

Therefore, those voting in-person must wear a face covering while inside the polling precinct. Voters who do not have a face covering will be provided one, and social distancing will be observed to the extent possible. Although no voter may be refused the right to vote under law, wearing a mask is mandatory and will make others more comfortable while voting in person.

The DHHR also issued guidance for county clerks, their staff, and poll workers to follow for safely processing absentee ballots. Even though there will be substantial in-person protections in place, Warner encourages all voters to have a plan to vote and be prepared.

“These guidelines are an important part of our public education campaign to ensure that West Virginia is prepared to offer safe polling locations and options for every voter during the pandemic,” Warner said. “For in-person voters, please bring your mask. Consider voting during the early voting period or on Election Day at a less-busy time.”

To learn more about polling locations, safety precautions, how to become a poll worker, absentee voting, and up-to-date election information, visit the Secretary of State’s website at GoVoteWV.com.

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com