Today we’d like to talk to you about doing what is necessary to get the spaces in our hometowns clean, organized, and ready for voting day! In particular, how to create safe and orderly polling stations in schools, libraries, churches, and other centers in our communities. If you will be involved with setting up the polling station on
election day – whether you’re the manager or employee of the building, a volunteer, or a polling employee, please read our top five tips on getting this important space into tip-top shape!
#1 – Safety is key
When preparing for a large turnout, it is essential to make sure the polling station is the safest it can be. All staff and volunteers should be well prepared. There needs to be emergency procedures in place, and all should
know what to do in an event of a lockdown or evacuation. All staff, volunteers, and law enforcement officials should have specific established roles. If possible, there should be employees routinely checking the building and surrounding grounds. Everyone working on election day should also know how to easily communicate with one another, and with a law enforcement official if any issues arise.
#2 – Ideal interior
There is a standard polling station layout that should be followed, allowing ease of use for both the voters and the staff. There needs to be a uniform flow in the voting area, with one exit and one entrance on opposite sides of the
space. This will help guide the voters in a one way path and avoid confusion. If the exit and entrance has to be the same or close to each other, you can use barriers to separate the voters coming in from those exiting. In terms of furniture, sparse is better! You will need to set up tables for the polling station manager and for the staff checking voter eligibility and handing out voting materials. Both of these tables should be set up with a view of voters waiting in line and the polling compartments. Having them near the entrance will be helpful for voters coming in who need assistance. Voting compartments should be located in positions that allow voters to vote in
private, and preferably between the table where materials are issued and the ballot boxes. You can get more details on standard layout on the ACE Electoral Knowledge Network. It’s also
important make sure the building is in good shape – no leaking roofs, faulty stairs, or unstable handrails. With hundreds of people coming through of various ages, it is essential that everything is repaired to minimize any issues
or accidents. You will be responsible for a safe and clean environment, and the last thing needed on such an important day is any incidents that you could be liable for.
#3 – Curb appeal
Curb appeal isn’t just for your own home. The voters coming to the polling station need to feel comfortable going there and performing their civic duty. Nobody wants to be walking into a building that’s falling apart, or looking like it soon may! It’s important to make sure the exterior of the building and surrounding grounds is presentable. That means get out the lawnmower and get to work, trim the bushes and trees, and get everything outside looking it’s best. Or call a local landscaping company to get this quickly off your list! If the building and walkways look like they have decades of grime caked on, get an affordable and easy to use electric pressure washer and get the job done. You can check out electric pressure washer reviews to find some great ones. You’ll be happy you did once you see the difference. You wouldn’t have your own house looking unkept, why would you want a building where hundreds will come through looking any worse?
#4 – Signs all around!
It’s important that people know where to go, especially if they’re not familiar with the building. You don’t want lost voters milling around, not only will it become hectic quickly it could also be a liability. Have signs clearly pointing where the entrance and exits to the building are. Signs showing where visitors can park is essential. If there are rooms or areas that you don’t want voters going into, make sure there are signs clearly permitting or forbidding entrance to them. It’s important have clear signs all around to promote safety and efficiency on election day.
#5 – Accessibility for all
It’s essential for the polling station to be handicap accessible, compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Once the space is approved, it is still important to make sure everything is laid out well, there’s no furniture blocking walkways, and there’s clear, short routes from handicap parking spaces to the polling booths. Avoid any unnecessary tables or chairs. As mentioned before, make the layout as sparse as possible. There will be a large amount of people at certain times and you want to reduce any risk of accidents. It is also a good idea to always have plenty of staff and volunteers at all times, prepared to help if and as needed.