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SOS: Polling places will be safe, clean and accessible on Election Day

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Voters will find their polling places safe and clean tomorrow, thanks to election workers well equipped with masks, gloves, cleaning supplies and protocols for hygiene and social distancing.

“We have already held two successful elections since the COVID-19 pandemic came to Michigan, and voters can go to the polls tomorrow confident that protecting their health and safety is our highest priority,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “All election workers are required to wear masks, all voters are strongly encouraged to do so, and my administration has provided masks, gloves, sanitizer and more to jurisdictions statewide.”

Further, 2.9 million Michigan citizens have already cast absentee ballots – approximately 60 percent of expected total turnout – which will drastically reduce the potential for polling place crowding and lines, and help keep voters safe. A breakdown by jurisdiction of absentee voting data is available here.

Voters will also be safe of intimidation and harassment, no matter how the Michigan Supreme Court rules on Secretary Benson’s directive prohibiting open-carry of a firearm in and within 100 feet of a voting location. The prohibition is supported by majorities of Michigan republicans, democrats and independents, as well as Michigan gun owners, according to a recent poll conducted by The Detroit News and WDIV-TV.

“The bottom line is that voter intimidation is illegal,” said Benson. “As the Court of Appeals confirmed, anyone who intimidates a voter in Michigan by brandishing a firearm is committing a felony, and this is enforceable by Michigan State Police and local law enforcement. As Michigan’s Chief Elections Officer I have a duty to protect every voter and their right to cast their vote free from intimidation and harassment. The Attorney General and I are working with state and local law enforcement agencies to ensure the law is followed statewide.”

Registered voters can find their polling place location at Michigan.gov/Vote. They are encouraged to bring photo identification with them, but will be allowed to vote without it. Additionally, if a voter requested and received an absentee ballot but has decided to vote at their polling place, they should bring the absentee ballot with them, although they will be allowed to vote without it.

Every polling place will also be equipped with a Voter Assist Terminal, designed for voters with disabilities and available for anyone to use. Depending on the county they live in, voters will use one of three types of machines, and the Department of State has created tutorials for using all three in partnership with Disability Rights Michigan, Disability Network of Michigan, Michigan State University's Usability/Accessibility Research and Consulting, Michigan Disability and Rights Coalition and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service's Public Police Committee, as well as other disability rights advocates, and the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project. Voters can determine which type of machine is in their county at by visiting the Accessible Voting page at Michigan.gov/Vote.

Unregistered citizens who are eligible to do so may register and vote at their city or township clerk office until 8 p.m. tomorrow, Election Day, Nov. 3. They must bring a document verifying residency, such as a utility bill, school ID or government mail with their address. Digital copies are acceptable. Clerk office locations can also be found at Michigan.gov/Vote.

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