Extra Health and Safety Precautions Ordered at Mass. Polls

Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin said he does not expect the virus to impact voting Tuesday but has ordered local polling places to enforce additional measures

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Massachusetts officials are taking extra steps at the polls Tuesday to ensure the health and safety of voters.

The virus is not expected to have a sizable impact on voting, according to Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, the top official overseeing elections.

But Galvin ordered local polling places to enforce additional measures, like for voting booths to be constantly cleaned and disinfected throughout the day.

A woman in her 20s who recently returned from Italy has a presumptive case of coronavirus, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.

Pens shared by multiple voters will be switched out and extra pens will be available, in case voters don’t want a pen that’s been used by others.

Galvin is also allowing people in self-quarantine for coronavirus to be treated as hospital patients and vote by absentee ballot, where typically by law those people not in the hospital would be required to vote in person.

Additionally, polling places are being told to have volunteers on standby, in case all workers don’t show up as a concern for contracting the coronavirus.

Galvin is so confident that coronavirus will not suppress voter turnout that he estimates 1.5 million Democrats and 350,000 Republicans will cast ballots in Tuesday's presidential primaries.

These totals would be a sizeable uptick from the 1.2 million Democrats who voted in the presidential primary in 2016.

With the coronavirus quickly spreading around the world and the second confirmed case in Massachusetts, some voters said the extra precautions weren't such a bad idea.

"I do think it’s a good idea," said one voter named Nancy.

"I hope it's effective," added voter Dave Harmon.

Other voters, although caution said they weren't too worried.

"I think I'll take my chances," voter Scott Davis said.

Polls are open statewide from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday as Massachusetts is one of 14 states to hold its presidential primary contests on Super Tuesday.

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