Webinar Provided Science-Based Strategies for Safe In-Person Voting

Boca Raton, Florida June 29, 2020 – Election administration experts from Auburn University, Smartmatic and The Infection Prevention Strategy discussed the challenges and solutions to ensuring safe in-person voting during the COVID-19 pandemic in a webinar on June 24.

During the session, "Science-Based Strategies for a Safer In-Person Vote," panelists stressed that, despite the expected surge in mail-in voting, there are multiple reasons in-person voting will also be needed. The panel noted that election administrators from the state, county and local levels must develop customized solutions that go beyond simply supplying masks and sanitizers. They shared a chart that showed more than three dozen instances in the election process from which the virus could spread. Topics discussed during the hour-long event included polling-site choice and preparation, best practices for traffic flow and social distancing, early voting, voter behavior and election worker recruitment.

Dr. Mitchell Brown of Auburn University moderated the conversation. The panelists were Auburn’s Dr. Kathleen Hale, Election technology expert Ed Smith of Smartmatic, and The Infection Prevention Strategy (TIPS) founder Michael Diamond. Smartmatic and TIPS have joined forces to provide advice and support to election jurisdictions on safe election system design and administration. More information on their joint effort can be found here

Of importance to the panel was the need to gain public trust through intensive communications around safe voting solutions.  “It’s best to start [communicating] early and widely with news media, even if you don’t yet have a framework, even if you don’t have specifics, at least broadcast that you’re working the issue and that you’re taking steps, such as a site survey of polling places,” said Smith.

Professor Kathleen Hale of Auburn pointed out that we are learning a lot from the primaries that can be applied to the November elections.

“We need to ensure that science guides policy and that it’s data-driven policy… There’s context to the information. It takes paying attention to the true data and the meaning of it to drive those policies,” said Diamond.

A video of the webinar is available here.