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Have COVID-19? Tennessee says you can vote at a designated polling site in your county

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Thursday, October 29 is the last day to vote early in Tennessee. This WTVC image shows people waiting in line at the Hamilton County Election Commission.

If you are headed to the polls on Election Day, but have COVID-19, its symptoms, or have to quarantine, there's still a place for you to vote in person.

Each county in Tennessee will have a designated polling site for those people who are sick. (Editor's note: Over the weekend, Georgia's Department of Public Health provided guidance for what COVID-positive voters should do.)

In Hamilton County, the designated location will be at the Hamilton County Election Commission.

If you have COVID-19 and you want to show up to the polls, you have to call your county's election commission beforehand to let them know.

Mike Goins, the coordinator of elections in Tennessee, says they have to find some way to accommodate for sick people on Election Day.

"Nothing in the law that says if you have COVID, we can tell you you can't come vote," Goins said.

Goins says under Tennessee state code, they have certain requirements for places that will be dealing with people who know they are sick.

This state code requires a "Health Alert" sign on the location, outdoor voting if possible, single use pens, and paper ballots.

We asked the state how these workers will be able to stay safe. Goins said they will provide all election workers with the proper PPE including face masks, face shields and gowns. Goins also mentioned that some counties might choose to partner up with their health department to safely conduct a vote.

Staff from the Hamilton County Election Commission says they have partnered with the Hamilton County Health Department to do drive up voting at the election commission. They ask that people call them in advance before showing up to vote there if they are sick.

Voters at the Hamilton County Election Commission had mixed thoughts.

"Wait what? So you're saying if you're positive you can come here to vote?" said voter John Darling.

"As long as its done safely for those involved," said Nikki Branam, another voter.

Even during a pandemic, the state wants it to be possible for people to be be able to head to the polls, no matter how healthy they are.

"We don't want to have folks that are COVID-19 positive in the general population with other voters," Goins said. "We want to make sure we protect other voters."

If you are looking to contact your election commission, click here.

COVID-positive in Georgia?

Georgia's Department of Public Health (DPH) is asking any voters who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are in quarantine to let a poll worker know before showing up to vote. They released the new guidance after our report aired. You can read the latest here.

During our report, we talked with a spokesperson from the Georgia Secretary of State's Office. He acknowledged that having COVID-19 does not restrict someone's right to vote, but encouraged those who have the virus to submit an absentee or mail-in ballot.

Recommendations for voters from the DPH and CDC include:

  • Wear a mask
  • Stay at least six feet away from others
  • Wash your hands or use sanitizer before and after voting
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