Election During Covid In Massachusetts


Alyssa DePasqua, Staff Writer

Covid-19 has put a damper on a lot of people’s lives and has changed the regular person’s everyday life in many ways. But, to have an election during a pandemic is another wrench thrown into it all. With social distancing and wearing masks, it raises the question of how are people going to vote in a healthy and safe way? 

This year has opened lots of doors for alternative ways to vote for people who don’t feel safe with going to a poll. The assistant town clerk for Barnstable, Janet Murphy, said that people have the ability to drop off ballots at drop boxes at the Barnstable Adult Community Center (BACC) or at the town hall in Hyannis. 

“We’ve put out 14,695 vote by mail ballots and we have received a little over half of them back,” Murphy said in an interview on Oct. 21, 2020. Murphy mentioned that the town hall purchased a mailbox specifically for this election so voters have more access to drop boxes. She said that the vote by mail has been a big push and voters have been excited to get their vote out in a safe manner. “People feel safe and that their ballot is being handled properly and that they’re doing it in a safe way.”

Murphy said that the poll workers and poll security are doing a great job of making sure voters follow the rules put in place to keep them safe. At the polling places, voters are required to wear a mask and stay six feet away from people at all times. The voting booths are six feet away from each other and there is a limit of six voters in the BACC at a time. Murphy said that voters have been taking the proper precautions when voting in-person to keep other voters and themselves safe. “Everyone wears masks. Some people wear gloves and utilize the soap we have inside the BACC. People are staying six feet from each other,” Murphy said. 

She added that there hasn’t been one voter that has been asked to put a mask on. “We have extras if they need one, but everyone has worn a mask.” Murphy said, “Our voters in Barnstable are very educated about the virus and are wonderful about waiting their turn.” 

Poll workers are taking the correct safety precautions inside the BACC by wiping down the voting booths after every person and are properly sanitizing themselves to make sure they stay clean and healthy. 

“[Voters] are being very patient with our workers,” Murphy said, adding that the poll workers are very happy to be out helping voters get their voice out and vote, even in the hardest of times. “Even though they have masks on, you can see their smiles,” Murphy said. “It’s a good feeling to know that people can still go out and vote safely if they want to.”

Phoebe Gibson, a senior at Barnstable High School, said she voted by mail because she thought there wouldn’t be a lot of availability to vote in-person. Though she voted in-person during the primaries, she ultimately opted to vote by mail due to her worry about lines at polling places and lack of availability. “[Covid-19] wasn’t a huge factor in my decision, but I was worried that there would be less polling places and availability,” Gibson said.

However, Gibson admitted that voting by mail felt unsatisfactory in her opinion. “I was definitely disappointed that I didn’t get to go to a polling place and take a picture with an ‘I voted’ sticker on,” Gibson said. “Voting in-person feels much more official.” 

Though Gibson is glad that she voted by mail, she still reminisced on the times she went with her parents to a polling place and watched them vote. “You grow up going to polling places with your parents and they get a sticker and it all feels so much more official than putting a ballot in a post office box.”