Coronavirus: Santa Clara County vote centers offer sanitizers, wipes to avoid COVID-19

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ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Santa Clara Co. vote centers offer sanitizers, wipes to avoid coronavirus
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Santa Clara County voters are now using new touch screen technology to cast their ballots. But with concerns about coronavirus (COVID-19), elections officials are providing an ample supply of sanitizers and wipes to allay fears.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Voters in Santa Clara County are using new touch screen technology for the first time. But with concerns about coronavirus, elections officials are providing an ample supply of sanitizers and wipes to allay fears.

While 8 out of 10 voters mail in their ballots in Santa Clara County, the 20% who vote in person will face a choice to cast a paper ballot, or try out the county's new touch screen devices.

However, voters like Amali Ucuna has some reservations.

"Everybody's touching that," she said. "I don't know what they were touching before that screen. That's one thing that it can spread to other people."

The Registrar of Voters has supplied each of the 110 voting centers with bottles of hand sanitizer and bags of wipes to clean the screens. There is no set rule how often the screens are sanitized.

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"It's up to the vote center's discretion when to use the touch screen wipes," said Eric Kurhi with the registrar's office. "However, people can certainly request that we wipe the screen, and it will be done."

At one voting center Monday, the bag of wipes couldn't be located. Across town, at the Martin Luther King San Jose State library, there were plenty of wipes. Even the data cards used to activate the touch screen device were being sanitized.

The challenge with electronic voting is that there are a lot of surfaces to touch, such as the touch screen itself. And if you're hearing impaired using headphones, the controller itself would possibly need to be wiped down.

The check-in counter at another voting center was being wiped down as a precaution.

There are alternatives if a voter wants to be extra cautious. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo had some suggestions.

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"To vote, you only need to walk down the driveway to the mailbox, or if you're a little more brave, you can come down to any of our libraries and drop it off at any of the voting centers," the mayor said.

Most of the drop-off ballot boxes are outdoors, and they are accessible 24 hours.