Local groups work to inform voters, ensure safety during pandemic

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – We’ve already seen what not to do when it comes to voting during a pandemic. Most primary voting in Wisconsin didn’t follow social distancing guidelines.

“Wisconsin had polling places that were planned to open, and then the poll workers didn’t show up. They didn’t feel safe,” says League of Women Voters of Coastal Georgia President Rebecca Rolfes.

The league is using lessons learned in Wisconsin to help local and state election officials think through every detail and concern for safe voting here. That includes, she says, how voters interact with the new voting machines.

“They do have a touch screen, so do you need to bring your own gloves? Should you be wearing a mask? Will those machines be cleaned between one voter and the next?” Rolfes questions.

Instead of meeting voters in person to get out such information, the league is using computer group chats, and phone calls. Rolfes says right now they’re helping people figure out safer ways to get their absentee ballots in.

“We’re encouraging places like apartment buildings, for instance, senior living centers, that sort of thing to collect all of those absentee ballots in one place, the lobby, for instance” she explains, “and then have one person deliver them to the post office or call us and we’ll come pick them up.”

The point, says Rolfes, is to think creatively and adapt. She wants people to remember there are groups like The League of Women Voters who are there to help.

Rolfes wants to remind Georgia voters that they can drop absentee ballots in a mailbox, without postage, and the postal service will still deliver it to the elections office.

Drop boxes will also be in place at polling locations during the primary election on June 9, for people who don’t feel comfortable going inside to cast their vote.

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