Adoption of Strategies to Mitigate Transmission of COVID-19 During a Statewide Primary Election - Delaware, September 2020

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020 Oct 30;69(43):1571-1575. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6943e2.


Elections occurring during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have been affected by notable changes in the methods of voting, the number and type of polling locations, and in-person voting procedures (1). To mitigate transmission of COVID-19 at polling locations, jurisdictions have adopted changes to protocols and procedures, informed by CDC's interim guidance, developed in collaboration with the Election Assistance Commission (2). The driving principle for this guidance is that voting practices with lower infection risk will be those which reduce the number of voters who congregate indoors in polling locations by offering a variety of methods for voting and longer voting periods. The guidance for in-person voting includes considerations for election officials, poll workers, and voters to maintain healthy environments and operations. To assess knowledge and adoption of mitigation strategies, CDC collaborated with the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and the Delaware State Election Commission on a survey of poll workers who served during the statewide primary election on September 15, 2020. Among 522 eligible poll workers, 93% correctly answered all three survey questions about COVID-19 transmission. Respondents noted that most voters and poll workers wore masks. However, masks were not always worn correctly (i.e., covering both the nose and mouth). Responses suggest that mitigation measures recommended for both poll workers and voters were widely adopted and feasible, but also highlighted gaps in infection prevention control efforts. Strengthening of measures intended to minimize the risk of poll workers acquiring COVID-19 from ill voters, such as additional training and necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as support for alternative voting options for ill voters, are needed. Adherence to mitigation measures is important not only to protect voters but also to protect poll workers, many of whom are older adults, and thus at higher risk for severe COVID-19-associated illness. Enhanced attention to reducing congregation in polling locations, correct mask use, and providing safe voting options for ill voters are critical considerations to minimize risk to voters and poll workers. Evidence from the Delaware election supports the feasibility and acceptability of implementing current CDC guidance for election officials, poll workers, and voters for mitigating COVID-19 transmission at polling locations (2).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S.
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Coronavirus Infections / transmission
  • Delaware / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / transmission
  • Politics*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Young Adult