MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. — Polling stations will look different for the upcoming presidential election in November.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, extra safety precautions will greet voters as they take part in what's expected to be an election with a historic turnout.
Seven stations will open across Maricopa County on Wednesday, and dozens more will open in the coming weeks.
"All of the vote centers we have are large enough to have physical distancing, we will have safety measures in place at all of our locations," said Erica Flores, the deputy director of communications for Maricopa County's elections department.
"Poll workers will be wearing masks, face shields, glove and will offer gloves and masks to voters if voters forget their masks at home."
Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes said plans to prevent the virus from spreading include increased sanitation and safety training for volunteers, including:
- Providing education to staff to increase awareness on topics such as COVID-19 symptoms.
- Performing daily body temperature screenings prior to entering.
- Enforcing the face mask mandate.
- Creating centralized supply hubs for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items like masks, cleaning supplies, and gloves.
- Increasing access to hand sanitizer.
- Installing portable handwashing stations.
- Increasing access to trashcans for the appropriate disposal of PPE
- Displaying visual indicators including wristbands, physical distancing tape, and mask required signs.
- Increasing daily cleaning of high-touch surfaces and weekly deep cleaning.
If voting in-person doesn’t sound like something you would want to do during the pandemic, the country is implementing a variety of early voting options.
The county says nearly 78% of its 2.5 million registered voters have requested a mail-in ballot.
You can return the early ballot through the mail by Oct. 27 or drop it off at any Vote Center or secure ballot drop box by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Signing up at beballotready.vote will allow voters to track their mail-in ballots from the time they are shipped to the home until that ballot is counted in the election.
Maricopa County elections officials have a goal of having about 175 in-person polling stations, far less than typical election years. However, people can choose any location in their county instead of having a designated polling station.
Additional changes include “vote centers” and drive-thru, contactless ballot dropoffs that will open beginning Oct. 24. They'll be set up at shopping malls, sports arenas, spring training stadiums, the Phoenix Convention Center and other venues.
You can find sites and hours of operation at the county recorder website.
The deadline to register for the election was extended through Oct. 23 by 5 p.m.
You can read the Maricopa County voter safety plan below: