Illinois Public Health Department Provides Guidance for State Polling Locations

by Nathan Dehaan

With the 2020 election coming up during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has issued new and updated guidelines for polling locations state-wide to follow during early voting and Election Day. The IDPH says that these new instructions have been put in place “to protect the health and safety of voters.”

All local election authorities are required to develop and write up detailed COVID-19 prevention plans for all polling sites in their jurisdiction. These plans will include specific COVID-19 safety and training protocols as well as names for those charged with implementing the prevention plan.

“Voting is a right and a privilege,” says IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “While the safest way to cast a ballot this year is voting by mail, we are and will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure that Illinoisans can exercise their right to vote in person, in the safest possible environments during this COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the IDPH’s press release on Friday, August 28th, it is detailed that “while election officials are prohibited from preventing a voter without a face covering from casting a ballot, the guidance requires they take every reasonable action to separate noncompliant voters, ensuring they are socially distanced from those voters who are compliant.”

Some of the new guidelines include distancing polling booths at least six feet apart, requiring all voters to wear or be provided a mask before entering polling places, and one-directional foot traffic. Additionally, the IDPH recommends Plexiglas barriers, large print signage and instructions, routine cleaning of frequently-touched surfaces, and more. Check out all of the IDPH’s updated instructions here