Anaheim, California 2020-09-16 19:59:38 –
Because of the ongoing pandemic, local voters’ options to participate in the Nov. 3 election will be either low-contact and no-contact, Orange County Registrar of Voter Neal Kelley said.
In-person voting will include masks, social distancing and other precautions, but also, everyone will get an already-stamped mail ballot they can send back or deposit at any drop box or vote center.
Kelley, with an assist from Anaheim Ducks mascot Wild Wing, showed off some of the options Wednesday, Sept. 16, at the Honda Center, which will be the county’s biggest vote center and the only one to offer the option of drive-through voting.
“I think most voters are going to choose to vote at home,” Kelley said, noting that eight out of 10 voters in the March primary used a mail ballot, and he expects at least the same percentage to do so in the general election.
But for those who prefer to go to the polls, Kelley’s team has tried to address every potential public health concern. As demonstrated at the Honda Center, the number of people allowed inside vote centers at any given time will be limited, with markings on the floor for proper distancing and voting booths spaced apart.
Hand sanitizer will be available near entrances and exits. Face coverings will be given to whoever needs one. Kelley ordered 300,000 pens for filling out ballots so nobody has to share (and voters have a souvenir to take home). Even the “I voted” stickers will be spit out by hands-free dispensers.
Voting booths will be disinfected after each use, and venues such as the Honda Center (Kelley is finalizing the last few locations) may take additional steps to reassure voters.
Honda Center CEO Tim Ryan said the arena is now accredited by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council, an offshoot of a cleaning industry trade group that evaluates facilities’ plans, protocols and training to minimize the risks of biohazards and infectious disease.
“If anyone’s uncomfortable about coming to the Honda Center, I can assure you that every precaution has been taken,” he said.
The Honda Center has the space to let voters drive through the parking lot, stopping at several stations to check in, get their personalized ballot printed out, fill in their choices and pass it to a poll worker, all without unbuckling their seat belt.
If someone comes into a center to vote, but refuses to wear a face covering, Kelley said he can’t bar them – voting is a constitutional right. Instead, vote centers will have a separate area with booths spaced even farther apart where the maskless can fill out their ballots.
At ocvote.com, real-time information will be available on wait times at vote centers. People will have 168 centers around the county to choose from, and they’ll all be open for five days, ending on election day.
The 116 official ballot drop boxes dotting the county provide another contact-free option.
While he’s doing all he can to make the in-person voting experience quick, easy and virus-free, Kelley urged people to consider using the mail ballot that should arrive sometime after Oct. 5.
Most voters “just want a safer environment to vote,” he said, “and what’s safer than your coffee table?”