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Facing large crowds at the primary voting sites is a growing concern for some, especially among Florida’s large elderly population.

As the numbers of those testing positive for coronavirus keep climbing in Florida, with 42 state residents diagnosed as of March 13, there is a growing concern as to how the fear of the virus’ spread will affect the Florida primary elections, which as of Friday March 13, will be held on Tuesday, March 17.

Citing coronavirus concerns, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden canceled a campaign event to be held in Miami on Monday, the eve of the primary. 

“The health and safety of the public is our number one priority. We have been and will continue to consult with relevant officials, including our recently announced Public Health Advisory Committee, regarding steps the campaign should take to minimize health risks for staff and supporters,” Biden’s campaign said on Wednesday.

Fear of the spread of coronavirus continues to grow, especially among the state’s large elderly population, who are being asked to avoid crowds because of the threat of the COVID-19. To assuage voters’ concerns, election officials are taking several precautions. For example, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer announced that hand sanitizer stations and sanitizing wipes will be available to the public and workers at polling stations. “We’re following CDC guidelines, and we know everybody is talking about it. So wash your hands, use hand sanitizer and don’t touch your face,” said Latimer.

As an added precaution, elections officials will be wiping down voting equipment with sanitized wipes each hour and sanitized wipes will be available to voters to wipe down the booths and the pens. Most Florida counties are following similar guidelines.

But voter turnout is not the only concern. Although elections supervisors in Broward and Palm Beach counties are providing gloves and hand sanitizer, some of the poll workers are passing up working on the presidential primary next week. Yet despite these concerns, “the election’s going to go on,” Governor Ron DeSantis said Wednesday at a news conference in Tallahassee.

Voting in Assisted Living Facilities

Polling places located in Assisted Living Facilities (ALF), which are typically home to seniors or people with medical conditions –who are more susceptible to coronavirus—  may experience some last-minute changes, according to Gov. DeSantis.

Because some of these voting sites are open to the general public, the governor expressed he’d like to have the ALF residents vote in the facilities, but that members of the general public should be directed to a different polling location. To arrange this, state Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz is working with Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, who in turn is working with county elections supervisors, DeSantis said.

Early Voting and Vote By Mail

  • For those concerned about the large crowds that congregate at polling sites, early voting is still an option. The deadline is this Sunday, March 15th. To find out early voting locations in your county, you need to visit the Florida Department of State website and click on Early Voting Locations/Dates/Times. Then click on County Supervisor of Elections.  Then select your city and county. 
  • Although the deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail passed as of March 7th, you can request one in person, showing a photo I.D., at your County Supervisor of Elections (CSE) office. To find out your CSE location, visit the Florida Department of State website. Your ballot must be postmarked by March 17th in order for your vote to be counted. 

For those voting in Florida for the first, you can find all the information you need here.