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Curbside voting: What you need to know

COVID-19 has changed the protocol for curbside voting in some, but not all, polling places

ST. LOUIS — Polling place fixtures like stacks of envelopes and rolls of “I voted” stickers will be joined for Missouri’s primary by Plexiglas dividers, hand and pen sanitizer stations, and signage marking a six-foot distance.

“It's a different environment we're all voting in these days,” said Ben Borgmeyer, St. Louis city’s Democratic Director of Elections.

Like going out to eat or taking your dog to the groomer, voting has a curbside option, too, in the COVID-19 age. It’s actually long been an option in Missouri for an election worker to bring a ballot to you on the sidewalk or at your car, typically reserved for people with mobility issues.

In St. Charles and Jefferson County, election authorities told 5 On Your Side that's still going to be the case this election, though Jefferson County is considering expanding it for the November Election.

St. Louis County opted to expand the curbside offering because of the pandemic as well as the local face mask requirement.

“The instruction that our board has issued is that if somebody is uncomfortable wearing a mask in the polling place, that they can vote curbside,” said Eric Fey, St. Louis County’s Democratic Director of Elections.  

The same applies in St. Louis city, where they'll also bring ballots out to those who might be feeling COVID-19 symptoms.

“That person wants to vote but obviously doesn't want to expose other people to coronavirus, the idea would be that the curbside voting would be kind of perfect for that person,” said Borgmeyer.

Neither Jefferson nor St. Charles counties have face mask mandates, so it’s up to voters and election workers to decide whether or not to wear them--though they’re “strongly encouraged.”

In most places, someone will need to go in and alert poll workers you wish to vote outside.

Outside St. Louis city polling places, though, they'll have buzzers that look like doorbells posted. Give it a ring and election workers will bring you a ballot.

While they’re making it easy, Borgmeyer admits they don’t prefer most people use that method of voting.

“It does pose a drain on the resources of the polling place for the judges that are staffing the inside of the facility to come out and take care of one voter, so we're asking that if people come out and want to use the curbside, obviously do it, however, if you are able to vote, if you feel comfortable going to the polling place, we put safety measures in place to make sure the polling places are secure, safe.”

All of the local election authorities we spoke with say they've worked hard to make voters feel comfortable casting their ballots inside.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that we'll have a pretty good procedure on election day,” said Fey.