By Cindy Ekas, Connellsville Daily Courier (Monday, May 18, 2020)
The Fayette County Election Bureau is working hard to ensure voter and poll worker safety as Pennsylvania’s Presidential Primary Election is fast approaching.
Gov. Tom Wolf has encouraged all citizens to vote via mail-in ballot during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
However, voters still have option to visit the polls on June 2.
In addition to processing thousands of mailin ballots, Election Bureau Director Larry Blosser and his staff are preparing to adhere to strict social distancing and cleaning guidelines on Election Day.
Blosser said he is also seeking community support to help protect Fayette County.
“I’ve seen where people are making masks and donating them to healthcare workers and nursing homes,” Blosser said. “I just wondered whether people might be willing to donate masks and supplies for our poll workers.”
The Pennsylvania Department of State Bureau of Elections and Notaries is providing every county with enough COVID-19 safety kits to cover 65 percent of their voting precincts.
The kits include a limited number of protective masks, disinfectant wipes, gloves and hand sanitizer.
Fayette County has 77 polling places, and each set will have up to 15 workers.
“This works out to about 50 kits, and the county needs to provide the remainder,” Blosser said.
“We will need, at a minimum, an additional 37 kits, as some of our larger precincts will need more supplies than are included in the kits,” he added.
Poll workers will be required to regularly sanitize all pens, touchscreens, scanners, buttons, tables, privacy screens, door handles and other items or surfaces voters and workers touch.
With poll workers at the precincts from 6 a.m. to at least 9 p.m., they will need to change their masks and gloves multiple times throughout the day to adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
“Donations would be a tremendous help and allow them to replace their masks more frequently,” Blosser said. “Sanitizing wipes would be greatly appreciated, as well.”
Anyone wishing to donate supplies should email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, to arrange a drop-off time. Supplies can also be mailed to the Fayette County Election Bureau at 22 East Main Street, Uniontown, PA 15401.
Additionally, residents are urged to join one of the Pennsylvania Department of State’s weekly webinars to prepare for in-person voting at the polls.
The webinars take place at 5:30 and 7 p.m. every Tuesday until May 26, and cover topics such as voter registration, voting by mail-in ballots and elections during COVID-19. Visit www.dos.pa.gov for more information.
“Poll worker wellbeing is extremely important to me, because they are an integral part of the voting process,” Blosser said.
“Election Day is a very long day for the poll workers, so giving them peace of mind that they won’t become ill is the least we can do,” he continued.
“It is equally important to maintain a safe polling place so that voters may exercise their right to vote and not be fearful of participating in the voting process,” he added.
For more information on the upcoming election, visit www.governor.pa.gov.
For more information on COVID-19, including symptoms, treatments and outbreak updates, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov. For regular updates, visit www.facebook.com/fcema911 or www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/Pages/Coronavirus.aspx
Cindy Ekas is a Daily Courier staff writer. She can be reached at 724-628-2000, ext. 115, or email@example.com.