Finger coverings, popsicle sticks: What to expect during early voting in a pandemic

Early voting starts at 7 A.M. Monday, and voting machines will be wiped down, about every 15 minutes. Photo: CBS Austin

Early voting in the middle of a pandemic -- and Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir says the county had to get creative to make sure voters turn out, Monday. One of the first priorities – decreasing touch points at polling places.

“A little plastic covering that goes on the end of your finger so that it’s covered, and you can use your finger to sign in at the sign-in table, you don’t have to touch the poll pad,” said DeBeauvoir.

Voter safety is top of mind, she says, and the voting process will be unlike what you’ve experienced in past elections. Aside from finger coverings, to mark your ballot, you’ll be given a popsicle stick.

“It will work just fine,” said DeBeauvoir, “and, you don’t have to touch the device either.”

But, she says there was no room in the budget for face masks. They’re relying on voters to provide their own and wear it. But, if you don’t, “not wearing a mask does not mean that you don’t get to vote,” said DeBeauvoir. “We are gonna make sure you vote, but we’re also gonna try to put you as far away from the other voters as possible, in the polling place.”

RELATED: Record-breaking 636 new COVID-19 cases reported for Austin-Travis County

To enforce social distancing, voting machines will be spaced six-feet apart and markings on the floor will show people where to stand.

But, a record-breaking 636 new COVID-19 cases confirmed in a single day on Sunday has local leaders concerned this could have a negative effect on voter turnout. With safety precautions in place, Mayor Steve Adler is urging people to get out and vote.

“It’s an important thing to do,” said Adler. “It’s a shame that people are being put at risk. I disagree with the courts that are requiring people to show up, but voting is something that’s real important.”

Early voting starts at 7 A.M. Monday, and voting machines will be wiped down, about every 15 minutes.

DeBeauvoir encourages people to bring an umbrella, in case you are forced to wait outside.