With the 2020 presidential election just 22 days away, it’s never been more important to make a voting plan. For many who are concerned about potential COVID-19 exposure, that means voting by mail; even for those with the time and ability to vote in person, whether early or on Election Day, health can still pose a concern, so we reached out to New York City ER doctor Dara Kass, who holds the title of associate professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and is a Yahoo News medical contributor.

Dr. Kass has been on the COVID-19 front lines since the start of the pandemic, to ask how in-person voters can keep themselves safe and minimize risk while making sure their vote is counted.

First things first: From a health standpoint, is it better to vote by mail if you have the option?

No! I would say that voting in person is perfectly safe as long as you take the same precautions you would in any other socially distanced or monitored setting. As long as you come in prepared for the space around you, there’s nothing unsafe about voting in person; obviously it’s always safer to stay home, but you have to do a risk-benefit analysis about staying home versus having a voice in a democracy.

Is early voting potentially less crowded, and, thus, safer than voting on Election Day?

We don’t really know as of now, because there are fewer early voting locations, but probably the best thing to do is try to vote early and see how lines are. If you go and you feel safe, vote then, and if not, come back the next day. It definitely seems good to try to vote as early as possible to mitigate anything going awry, because if you wait until Election Day, you’re stuck with whatever happens on that day.

What health and/or medical supplies should in-person voters be prepared to bring with them to the polls?

Masks! Maybe make sure to have double-layered or filtered masks, if you get caught inside a space and aren’t able to be outdoors. I would recommend that if people want to be very prepared, they can consider bringing eye protection—goggles or glasses, or face shields—for extra security. I would have hand sanitizer with you in case you touch a surface and want to sanitize between hand washes, although there is a question about some ballots reacting to hand sanitizer, but you can use it while waiting in line.

Another thing to think about is bringing snacks with straws, because you might be waiting for a while and want individually wrapped, quick things to eat. The straw really helps minimize the need to take off your mask while you’re waiting, so think about protein shakes or other liquids.

Do you know of any precautions that poll workers can take to make things safer from a COVID-19 standpoint?

Poll workers’ precautions should be similar to the precautions that voters should be taking. The most important thing is mutual respect; we need people to listen, wear their masks, [and] keep a distance. If you respect poll workers and the job they’re doing, you won’t get in their faces or ask them to solve problems they can’t solve, because we’re all doing our best.

Source: vogue.com