Public Health Practices: Enhancing Emergency Preparedness & Response
Public Health Practices
Enhancing Emergency Preparedness & Response
ASTHO - The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

Protecting Voters at the Polls (VA)

Virginia Department of Health
Practice Description: 

The Virginia State Board of Elections (SBE) took a number of steps to prevent the spread of H1N1 during the Nov. 3, 2009 election. The SBE prepared by using a number of existing communication and outreach techniques, including hosting a conference call with electoral board members, general registrars, and Dr. Diane Helentjaris of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to hear her suggestions for election planning.

The VDH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) worked together to donate more than 2,000 bottles of hand sanitizer for use in polling places. Local polling site workers were also instructed to take a number of steps to reduce the spread of germs and enhance public confidence, including:
*Frequently cleaning commonly touched surfaces at polling locations

*Distributing a bottle of hand sanitizer to every polling place

*Organizing voting sites to increase space between voting booths and voters in line (recommendation was 6 feet apart)

* Recruiting backup election staff in case others called in sick on Election Day

* Educating voters about absentee voting options

* Encouraging registrars to communicate with school district and local health district offices

* Having plenty of garbage cans to dispose of tissues and cleaning supplies

* Ensuring IT connectivity for state and local officials who cannot get to their offices

* Distributing a table of influenza signs and symptoms so that registrars and precinct chiefs could make better informed decisions about when to replace election officers with alternates

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