By Bill Spinks


wspinks@waxahachietx.com


The Ellis County Elections Office has announced a series of health protocols designed to keep voters and poll workers safe for the Tuesday, July 14, primary runoff election.


"Voter and poll worker safety at the polls is our top priority in Ellis County," the office said in a news release. "We want to keep everyone safe during this COVID-19 pandemic. These past few months have been unusual with moving dates of elections, adding days to early voting, and preparing health-safety measures at the poll place while still having the unknowns and changes each day. Our office is committed to providing safe and accessible voting with the same security and integrity we have always provided during an election."


Early voting begins on Monday and will continue through July 10. On July 14, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. A full list of polling locations is available at www.co.ellis.tx.us/elections .


Voting by mail:


A voter is eligible to vote early by mail if they are a registered voter who is:


• 65 years of age or older on election day;


• Expects to be out of the county during the days and hours that voting is conducted during early voting in person and on election day (Must provide an out of county address including the beginning and the ending date of receiving mail at this address. This application is only good for one election and runoff.)


• Has a disability, defined as a sickness or physical condition that prevents the voter from voting in person without a likelihood of needing personal assistance or injury to the voter’s health;


• Confined in jail, but eligible to vote. 1) serving a misdemeanor sentence and will not be released prior to election day, 2) pending trial or an appeal of a conviction after denial of bail or without bail, or where release on bail before election day is unlikely. (This application is only good for one election and runoff.)


The following are the minimum recommended health protocols that will be in place for the primary runoff election. Individuals are encouraged to adopt additional protocols consistent with their specific needs and circumstances to help protect the health and safety of all poll workers and voters.


Recommended health protocols for voters:


1) Wear a face covering (over nose and mouth). However, if a poll worker needs to verify identity of the voter, they will ask for the mask to be removed and then replaced for the duration of the voting process.


2) Wash or disinfect hands upon entering and exiting the voting area along with practicing cough etiquette, cleanliness and sanitation.


3) Maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance between any others where possible.


4) Bring your own pen to sign your name or fill out any documents at check-in.


5) Use the provided disposable cotton swab to make your ballot selections on the marking device without physically touching the device.


6) Individuals ages 65 and older should stay at home and consider submitting an Application for a Ballot by Mail (deadline of July 2).


7) Self-screen before going to the polling place. Voters who exhibit any CDC listed symptoms associated with COVID-19 may want to consider utilizing curbside voting at the polling place, to the extent they meet the eligibility requirements.


Recommended health protocols for poll workers:


1) Face shields, gloves and masks will be provided to all poll workers.


2) Consistent disinfecting of items that come in contact with voters such as check-in tables, writing instruments, voting system equipment, chairs, handrails, and doors leading in and out of the polling place.


3) Workers will be trained on appropriate cleaning and disinfection protocols, hand hygiene, and cough etiquette.


4) Poll workers will self-screen for any CDC listed symptoms before entering the polling place.


5) To the extent feasible, maintain at least 6 feet between others at the polling location.


6) Arrange polling place and marking the floor with masking tape to allow voters to maintain at least 6 feet separation from other voters.