Changes to local elections to keep voters safe during coronavirus pandemic

Jacksonville, FL — “Social distancing is definitely an issue,” said St Johns County Supervisor of Elections Vicky Oakes.

Oakes said they are preparing for much larger and busier elections this year but not in-person

“We’ve had a lot happen in the last 32 years but nothing like this,” explained Oakes.

Oakes said to follow social distancing rules, there may be fewer voting machines and limits on how many voters can be in one polling precinct at a time which may cause long lines.

“Once you put the workers in the rooms six feet apart you only really have room for 3 voters,” Oakes said.

Oakes says normally they have six early voting sites for elections. But this year they will need at least eight for the primaries.

Her office is also reaching out to both parties to recruit volunteers to work the polls.

Last month Oakes says all 67 supervisors of elections made a request to Governor Desantis to increase the time periods for early in-person voting which could help long lines of voters on election day,

“We still heard nothing so there was no money tied to that at all,” Oakes said.

In addition to that Oakes says supervisors are still waiting for federal money from the Cares Act grant which is available through congress.

“Nobody has told us how much that is going to be,” Oakes said.

Oakes says while each county will be different, voters are likely to see poll workers with masks, social distancing requirements, sanitizers, and more polling locations.

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