Expect many changes at the polls due to COVID-19 concerns

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Mobile County will be using half the number of poll workers

MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — Voters in Mobile County will notice a number of changes when they go to the polls for the Alabama runoff election July 14.

If you are a registered voter, and live in Mobile County, you should have gotten a postcard within the last week asking for your patience at the polls. The cards also notify you if your polling place has changed since the March primary. Some polling places are not suitable for use during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis. 

“We’ve had a number of temporary poll relocations for this specific election to try to be able to better comply with C.D.C. social distancing guidelines and afford more voters to be able to vote at one time,” Davis said.

Voting will likely be a more time consuming process. Mobile County will be using half as many poll workers for health reasons, and that could lead to a slow down for voters

Poll workers will be wearing masks and/or face shields, as well as gloves. They will be behind clear plastic sneeze-guards and will be disinfecting all surfaces continuously. Voters will be social distanced in all lines: at the registration check-in, voting tables, and tabulation machines. There will be fewer voters allowed at each voting table. Pens will not be reused.

While the voting process should take a little longer, that could be offset by low turnout. Several election analysts are forecasting a 10-percent turnout, or less.

Masks are now mandated in public places in Mobile and unincorporated Mobile County, but Davis says voters will not be forced to wear them.

“We cannot mandate that a person wear a mask in order to vote,” he said. “That is not permitted and we got that advice from the Secretary of State’s office.”

Davis is encouraging people with health concerns to vote absentee. Those ballots must be postmarked by July 9.

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