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Can You Vote in Person if You Have COVID-19?

People who are wearing masks while voting
By Andrew Leonatti | Last updated on

With the coronavirus pandemic not showing any signs of slowing down in many states, many people are taking advantage of expanded opportunities to cast a vote by mail.

Still, whether because of fears about the U.S. Postal Service or a desire to have their vote immediately counted on election night, a majority are planning to vote in person.

But COVID-19 does not take days off. While authorities are taking action to encourage social distancing at polling places, it is likely that people with the virus will show up to vote. And there doesn't appear to be much anyone can do about it.

You Have the Right to Vote

Of course, most people don't want to show up at their polling place if they have COVID-19 or any other infectious disease. But depending on where you live, you may have already missed your state's deadline for requesting an absentee ballot. In that case, your options for casting a ballot are likely limited to showing up and voting in person.

And remember: If you are registered to vote, you have the right to access your local polling place. If your state allows for same-day registration, you have the right to access your polling place.

You could have COVID-19, the flu, or the common cold. You still have the right to access your polling place. (Of course, elected officials take a lot of actions that do affect people's ability to easily get to a polling place, but that is not the same issue.)

All the Guidelines Are Suggestions

Every state in the country, along with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has encouraged all kinds of mitigation measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at polling places.

One of the biggest is the one you hear everyone saying these days: Stay home if you are sick. But again, this is merely a suggestion.

What if you intentionally waited to vote in person on Election Day, and you are sick? Do you put on multiple masks and go vote anyway?

That is a decision that only you can make. But curbside voting is also an option in many states. If it is available to you, we hope it's a choice you will take advantage of.

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