ELECTION 2020

What should you do if you get COVID-19 before voting in Iowa?

Curbside option will work, state election official says

Wayne Hanson of Cedar Rapids signs in a voter participating in curbside voting Oct. 5 at a Linn County early voting stat
Wayne Hanson of Cedar Rapids signs in a voter participating in curbside voting Oct. 5 at a Linn County early voting station in Cedar Rapids. (Nick Rohlman/Freelance)

Are you planning to vote on Election Day in Iowa but are worried about what happens if between now and Tuesday you contract COVID-19 or come in contact with someone who did and must quarantine?

A spokesman for the state’s top election official says curbside voting is an option in those circumstances.

If a person contracts COVID-19, public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that person isolate for at least 10 days.

If a person comes in close contact with someone who had COVID-19, the CDC recommends that person quarantine for 14 days.

That means any Iowan who in the coming days contracts the virus or comes in contact with someone who did should stay away from others until after the election, according to federal public health guidance. That would present a challenge for any Iowan who was planning to vote in-person on Election Day.

A spokesman for the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office said if that happens, curbside voting would be an option.

With curbside voting, two poll workers bring a ballot to the voter in his or her vehicle. The voter fills out the ballot there, and the poll worker returns the ballot inside the polling place.

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Any individual making such plans should wear a face mask when interacting with others, according to public health guidance.

Voters are not required to contact anyone ahead of time when planning to vote curbside, but the Secretary of State’s Office suggests a voter making such a plan may want to contact the local county auditor’s office.

Curbside voting has been used in the past for people with disabilities or other concerns about entering a polling place.

If an Iowan is admitted to a hospital for COVID-19, the state already has in place a way for that person to request an emergency absentee ballot. If an Iowan is admitted to a hospital or health care facility on the Saturday, Sunday or Monday before Election Day, that person can contact the county auditor and request an absentee ballot, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.

With less than a week remaining before Election Day, time is winding down for Iowans to put an absentee ballot in the mail and expect it to be received by Tuesday.

(It should be noted that, by state law, any ballot that is postmarked by the day before Election Day and received by six days after Election Day will be counted.)

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