Solution to Voting in a Pandemic: Drive-Through Ballots

(Israel Election Committee)

Israelis who are sick with COVID-19 will be able to cast their ballots at drive-through polling stations that authorities hope will ensure a smooth election in March while minimizing infection risks.

The March 23 election is the country’s second since the global coronavirus outbreak.

Looking to improve the voting process, the national election committee said it would now open drive-through ballot boxes for people diagnosed with coronavirus.

Voters will pull up to a station, a ballot box will be rolled up to their window, and they will then present their ID and pick a candidate without having to step outside.

“The station safeguards the secrecy of the vote,” the committee’s director-general, Orly Adas, told reporters.

Polling station workers will be wearing protective equipment and the committee is consulting with the Health Ministry to come up with the safest protocols. This could include staffing the stations only with those who have recovered from COVID-19 and those who have been vaccinated, she said.

Adas outlined other measures, as well, including increasing the number of polling stations by 30% to reduce crowds; placing two voting booths in every station to speed up the process; and designating workers to ensure adherence to health guidelines at all sites.

She noted that the logistical challenges this time will surpass those in the March elections at the start of the outbreak. At that time, only 13 people in Israel had been infected with COVID-19 and about 4,500 were under quarantine. By contrast, the current tally has reached of over 35,000 active cases and some 120,000 people self-isolating.

Israelis who arrive at a polling place without a mask will be given one; protective dividers will be placed between voters and election workers; voting stations will be regularly disinfected; and dividers will be placed between ballot boxes.

A proposal to extend the election over several days to prevent crowding was rejected by the committee, she said.

The committee is also looking for additional public buildings and facilities to use as voting stations.

(Israel Election Committee)

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