Delaware primary voting to take on new look in COVID age

DOVER — Tuesday’s primary election will be different, and not just because it was pushed back two weeks. Just as COVID-19 has transformed schools, professional sports and ordinary businesses, it has affected how we vote.

New safety precautions designed to keep voters safe from coronavirus are in place, and a record number of ballots are expected to be cast by mail after the General Assembly in June approved legislation allowing vote-by-mail this year.

Ballots must be received by 8 p.m. Tuesday to be counted. They can be mailed to or dropped off at state or county election offices.

Despite the differences, all regular polling places will be open Tuesday. A few are located in different buildings because of COVID. Nursing homes that previously served as polling locations, for instance, are reticent to do so this year. But voters have been notified of changes, according to the state.

Voters who choose to go in person Tuesday should wear masks and social distance.

“Poll workers have been provided PPE, will be observing and maintaining social distancing protocols among themselves and for voters, and have been provided cleaning/sanitizing materials and will be doing their very best to maintain all voting equipment to be as clean and sanitized as possible,” Delaware Election Commissioner Anthony Albence wrote in an email.

The Department of Elections has encountered some additional difficulties finding election workers this year but polling sites will be well-staffed Tuesday, he said.

Although the agency does not have specific estimates for how many ballots will be sent by mail, the count figures to be far beyond record-breaking. July’s presidential primary saw about 124,000 ballots cast, 45% of which were absentee (full vote-by-mail was not yet in place).

Just 30% of Republican voters took part by mail, while 51% of Democratic participants did so.

In the 2018 state primary, in comparison, approximately 5% of participants voted absentee.

Individuals seeking more information can visit elections.delaware.gov to find their polling place, who they can vote for, where they can drop ballots off and more.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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