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Polls to be disinfected, among other precautions

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The Bastrop County Elections Department released an action plan last Wednesday detailing the steps they are planning to take to make the July 14 special election safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan, posted on the Bastrop County Elections Department Facebook page, outlines guidelines and procedures for both election workers and voters during early voting and on Election Day. It also has information about equipment, such as masks and gloves, that will be provided to election workers.

As much as possible, all election workers and voters, including those waiting in lines outside of the polling place, should remain six feet apart at all times, the plan said. Hand sanitizer will be provided for both voters and election staff at every location; voters should use hand sanitizer when entering and leaving a polling location, and election workers should use hand sanitizer before and after assisting each voter.

Each election worker will be provided with masks and gloves, the plan says; masks should be worn any time that six feet of distance cannot be maintained, and gloves should be used when cleaning frequently-touched surfaces. If an election worker chooses to wear gloves while interacting with voters, the gloves should be sanitized before and after assisting each voter. Election workers should wear a new mask each day during early voting.

Voters are encouraged to wear masks or face coverings while waiting in line or voting. Voters are encouraged to bring their own face coverings, but masks will be available for voters who do not have their own.

The voter check-in area, voting booths and machines will be cleaned and disinfected with disinfecting wipes before and after each voter. Voters will be issued a clean pen when checking in; after voting, voters will drop off their unsanitized pens in a designated bin, and election workers will clean and disinfect the pens before letting more voters use them.

Each polling location will have a protective shield at the voter check-in area, and signs will be placed at each polling location to remind voters and election workers to wear masks, use hand sanitizer and stay at least six feet apart.

Where and when to vote

The Democratic and Republican primary runoff elections, as well as a special election for Texas Senate District 14 to replace resigning Senator Kirk Watson, were postponed to July 14 by Texas Governor Greg Abbott due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Early voting will be available from Monday, June 29 to Thursday, July 3 and from Monday, July 6 to Friday, July 10. All four early-voting polling locations will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the first week of early voting and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the second week. The Bastrop County Commissioners Court approved this early voting schedule during a meeting on May 18.

Bastrop County voters can cast their ballots at any of the following poll locations during early voting: the Bastrop County Courthouse annex in Bastrop, Smithville City Hall, Cedar Creek United Methodist Church or the Elgin Public Library.

To find your Election Day polling location, visit Voting is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, which is Tuesday, July 14. Sample ballots can also be found at this website once they are available.