Santa Clara Co. takes precautions to keep public, poll workers safe from COVID-19

SANT CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- Although most people in Santa Clara County now vote by mail, election officials in Santa Clara County are still preparing for a big turnout at the polls on Election Day. They say they're doing everything they can to ensure a safe, in-person experience, despite the on-going COVID-19 pandemic.

RELATED: Record-breaking voter turnout recorded in Santa Clara County ahead of election day

"I don't want to get sick, and even more so, I don't want to get anybody else sick, and everybody else feels that way," says Santa Clara County election aide Kathleen Nelson, who has worked at the polls for nearly 25 years. "People here, for the most part, have been so excited to vote, which makes it exciting for us to work.

In addition to mandatory social distancing and face coverings, county officials have put in extra safeguards to ensure the safety of their staff, as well as the general public. ABC7 News was at the Central Park Library in Santa Clara on Monday afternoon as some people took advantage of early voting.

"We have someone going through the touchscreens, going through the polling booths, everything gets a wipe down, the front line where they're entering the pad information, it's all cleaned in between every single use," said Santa Clara County elections spokesperson Eric Kurhi.

RELATED: Here's how Santa Clara County's working to prevent voter intimidation at polls

Many people will still show up to a county vote center on Election Day for a number of reasons, ranging from language assistance to requesting a conditional ballot, or simply for peace of mind.
"Instead of just dropping it into the blue bag, or the drop box, they actually want to feed it into the machine to see their vote is cast," said vote center elections lead Ken Ng.

So far, Santa Clara County has already received more than 617,000 ballots by mail or by drop box out of the more than one-million people who are registered to vote.

"People are going to be able to cast their vote in a free and fair manner without intimidation (and) without harassment," said SJSU political science lecturer and adjunct professor Donna Krane. "This is going to be safe, the process is going to be solid."

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