A first-hand account from WQOW News Director Kristen Shill
Town of Washington (WQOW) - Like many of you, venturing out of my house is a nerve-wracking experience. I worry about what I touch and who has touched it before me. I worry about bringing those germs back to my house or my workplace. I worry about the health of my spouse, my kids and my co-workers. However, earlier today, I went to a place teeming with people to do my civic duty and vote. This is what it was like:
At first, I was worried the parking lot would be packed and there would be a line out of the door of people waiting to vote. That was not the case. I was able to find a parking spot in the small lot right outside the Town of Washington Municipal Building.
A poll worker was standing outside the front door, waiting for people to walk up. He asked me if I had any of the symptoms listed on a big, white board outside the door (fever, cough, etc). I did not, so he opened the door for me and let me in.
For every other election, voters are usually directed where to go by poll workers sitting at a table near the front doors. Today though, there was blue tape on the floor in one of two shapes - either an arrow or an 'X'. The 'Xs' were 6 feet apart so if there was a line (there wasn't), people would know where to stand.
For this election, the voting area was moved to the fire station garage, rather than a smaller gathering area. When I walked through the set of doors leading to that area, I was instructed to use hand sanitizer before picking up a pen and a stylus from two different buckets.
From there, the poll worker directed me to one of the check-in tables where another poll worker sat. Clearly marked on the floor in front of the table, was a blue 'X'. I stood there while he asked me my name. In the past, they have a big clipboard full of white paper filled with voter's names. Today though, he had a tablet. Once he found my name, he asked for my ID and asked that I place it on a purple piece of paper that was taped to his desk. As I stepped forward to place my ID down, the worker moved back to maintain proper social distancing. After I stepped back, he came forward to look at it to verify who I was. He never touched my ID and was never within 6 feet of me.
From there, I was asked to sign my name to verify who I was with the clean stylus I had picked up earlier. Again, as I stepped forward to do that, he moved backward. Once I did that, I was asked to discard the stylus into a pen holder on his desk. The poll worker slid a piece of paper across the table to me, which I took to another poll worker and read aloud the information on it. That's when I got my ballot. I was the one to skewer my paper on a wire receipt holder.
Next up was the actual voting. Every other voting booth was taped off so people wouldn't be too close together. I chose an empty one and voted with my clean pen. I followed the blue lines on the floor and submitted my ballot into an electronic voting machine.
On my way out of the building, I discarded my pen in a big box marked 'used pens.' The last thing I did was use the hand sanitizer station they had set up near the backdoor.
Overall, I felt a strong effort was made to keep me and the poll workers safe and healthy. There are a few things that would have eased my mind even more. First, while I saw voters wearing face masks and gloves, I didn't see any of the poll workers wearing them - even elderly ones. I also would have liked to see the tables in the voting booths being wiped down in between voters.
Kristen Shill is a registered voter in the Township of Washington and is the News Director for WQOW TV 18.