PHOENIX (AP) — Five Phoenix-area polling places for next week’s Arizona presidential primary will be moved from senior living facilities to other locations to protect vulnerable residents from potential exposure to the new coronavirus, the Maricopa County Elections Department said Wednesday.
Postcards are being mailed to 3,152 voters to notify them of their new voting location, and the county has updated its website, said Megan Gilbertson, a spokeswoman for the department.
All polling places will have supplies to keep them disinfected, and poll workers will have guidance on how to clean equipment and frequently touched surfaces, Gilbertson said.
The decision to move polling places was made after consulting health experts, she said, and election officials will work with the affected care facilities on voting options for residents with limited mobility.
"I think with the kind of mass hysteria we’ve seen about it the past few days, a lot of people, young and old, won’t show up to vote," said Michael Appel, who is voting in the Democratic Presidential Preference Election.
The elections department is working to ease your fears about coronavirus.
"Since it’s been in the news a lot, there is concern, so we have received some calls. But we’ve been reassuring them that we have been taking proactive steps to make sure polling locations are disinfected," said Erika Flores, deputy director of communications from the Maricopa County Elections Department.
Early voting is open until Friday. Election day is Tuesday.
The Maricopa County Elections Department says they are in constant communication with the County’s Department of Public Health and polling locations and will keep us updated if there are any changes.
"With the coronavirus, it’s a pretty scary time," said Reid Keller, who already voted for his favorite Democratic candidate. " I’m not trying to be too paranoid, but I think it’s always safe to keep in mind, big groups of people."
Democrats do have options when they vote.
"If you don’t want to interact with people, and you just want to vote in a dropbox, you can do that, and those locations are on locations.maricopa.vote," said Flores.
About 20 voting sites statewide are in places frequented by seniors, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs’ office said, but she stopped short of recommending that they be moved. Instead, she recommended vulnerable people be told to avoid the area and spaces be cleaned after the election.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people who get it recover.
The affected polling places are in Scottsdale, Sun City, south Phoenix and two facilities in west Chandler.
Officials in Pima, Pinal and Yavapai counties — the next three largest in Arizona — said they have not moved polling places.
Maricopa County’s shuffling mirrors changes being made around the country to protect older people who are more vulnerable to illness. Last-minute moves left voters in Michigan and Missouri scrambling to get to new polling places for their Tuesday primaries.
The effects in Arizona might be more limited compared with other states because eight in 10 voters here cast their ballots by mail.