Despite coronavirus concerns, Florida’s primary remains on schedule, officials say

Other states call off presidential primaries amid COVID-19 fears

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Despite elected leaders in other states calling for their presidential preference primaries to be postponed due to concerns about the coronavirus, Florida leaders say the state’s elections will go on as planned Tuesday.

“We are following all guidance from the Florida Department of Health and the CDC. That guidance tells us Floridians can safely and securely go to the polls to cast their ballots in Tuesday’s presidential preference primary,” Florida Secretary of State Laurel M. Lee said. “Precinct-based voting, where voters within a community cast a ballot, is nothing like the large gatherings our health professionals are encouraging Floridians to avoid.”

Local elections supervisors plan to stock voting precincts with cleaning supplies so poll workers can sanitize voting booths, pens and tabulation equipment.

Voters can also use their own cleaning products to help fight the spread of COVID-19.

[VOTER GUIDE: Everything to know ahead of Florida’s 2020 primary election]

“They can bring their own pen to mark their ballot. If they want to wear a mask, it’s OK with us,” Orange County Supervisor of Elections Bill Cowles said.

Voters who are feeling ill Tuesday should not go to their polling location, election officials said.

Instead, voters who are unable to cast their ballots in person may fill out paperwork provided by elections supervisors that authorizes a designee to pick up and return their ballots.

Before heading to the polls, voters are encouraged to visit their local supervisor of elections website to ensure their precinct location.

Due to coronavirus concerns, voting locations previously set up inside assisted living homes have been relocated.

[Coronavirus: Concerns prompt changes in Central Florida polling places for presidential primaries]

“I always say each election has its own personality, but this one has presented us with a lot more challenges than I’ve ever faced,” Cowles said.

Besides the struggle to find enough poll workers during a spring break week, lifestyle changes prompted by coronavirus concerns are also posing staffing issues.

“More poll workers are having to babysit kids, and so they’re not working. But we’ve got trained backups to replace them, so we’re rolling with the punches,” Cowles said.

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