Philly health commissioner to voters: Wear a mask, follow COVID safety advice

"No one is going to take away your right to vote" even if you have symptoms, Farley said.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- With just days to go until the 2020 presidential election and COVID cases rising in Philadelphia, the city's health commissioner gave advice to voting safely in the pandemic.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said Thursday the health department has worked with the City Commissioners to create a safety plan for voters.

Farley said voters should wear a mask at all times: at the polling place, while waiting to vote, while voting, and when leaving the polling place.

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He said voters should stay six apart from others, whether indoors or outdoors. Farley said while outdoors is a safer option, masks and social distancing should still be in place.

Voters should expect to have to wait outside their polling place until they are told to come inside and vote due to spacing. Farley said to bundle up if it's going to be chilly.

"The poll workers will be trying to prevent crowding indoors as a safety measure," Farley said.

Each voter will be given disposable gloves to use when signing in with a pen and when at the voting machine.

Philadelphia voters are urged to spend no more time than necessary to vote at their polling place.

Farley suggested voters should read their ballots ahead of the time so they are aware of the races and city questions.

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"Take as much time as you need to vote, we don't want to curtail that, but as soon as you're done voting, then leave so other people can come in and vote," Farley said.

Farley said voters arriving at a polling site with a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or another symptom should tell poll workers.

"You can still vote. No one is going to take away your right to vote. But you may need additional help and additional procedures so you can vote in a way that's safe," Farley said.

Farley said the sites may have alternative procedures for a person with symptoms to vote including emergency absentee ballots.

Farley said there is separate advice for poll workers and watchers in a packet that each will receive.

In addition, there will be rovers trained by the health department to assist with any questions about COVID safety at the polling places.
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