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Pinellas, state election officials say voting will be safe Tuesday

Margie Manning

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Ballot scanner used at precincts and for early voting (Photography provided courtesy of Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections)

Florida election officials say they are taking steps to protect against the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus, as voters prepare to go to the polls for the presidential primary and municipal elections on Tuesday.

“We have provided to all the supervisors of election guidance from the Florida Department of Health and the CDC best practices for hand washing, sanitation and recommendations for elections polling places, as well as guidance from voting machine manufacturers on how to best sanitize voting machines,” Laurel Lee, Florida Secretary of State, said at a news conference Sunday.

There are multiple options for voting in Florida. Early voting ended Sunday, but voting by mail is still an option.

Although the deadline for Pinellas County voters to request the Supervisor of Elections office to mail a ballot was March 7, voters may pick up a mail ballot in person through March 16 at any Supervisor of Elections office. Voters can vote on-site when they pick up their ballots, or they can drop off their ballots at a ballot drop-off location through March 16, Pinellas County elections officials said. For a list of Pinellas County Supervisor of Election offices, click here, and for ballot drop-off locations click here.

Mail ballot drop-off locations will be closed on Election Day, but voters can drop off their ballots at any of the three Supervisor of Elections offices. All ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Lee also sought to reassure those who who plan to cast ballots in person at a polling place.

“Precinct-based voting, where voters within a community cast a ballot, is nothing like the large gatherings our health professionals are encouraging Floridians to avoid. Voting is quick, it is community based, and voters and election workers can follow all health and safety precautions that have been shared with us by our health care experts,” she said. “If a voter has been ordered to self-isolate or is experiencing symptoms and has not yet voted, they should not go to the polls and instead should designate someone to pick up their vote by mail ballot for them.”

Pinellas County officials said they are taking several steps to enhance sanitation protocols.

  • Election staff will conduct regular maintenance of all election equipment using sanitizing wipes
  • All polling locations have hand sanitizer available for use by election staff and voters
  • Supervisor of Elections offices increased housekeeping staff and hours

Additionally, voters and poll workers may bring their personal wipes, hand sanitizer, pens and/or any other item to protect themselves.

Several polling places in Pinellas County have been moved from assisted living facilities. Voters impacted by the changes have been directed to other polling places nearby. Go to Find Your Precinct for polling place information.

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