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Voting in person is "low-risk activity" for catching coronavirus

Researchers dug into how many people got coronavirus during a Wisconsin election in April.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — According to the Union of Concerned Scientists Group the safest way to vote is by mail. But with all the debate over mail-in voting, viewers have been asking: How dangerous is it really to vote in person?

In Guilford County, the Board of Elections is taking steps to reduce your risk.

"Our precinct officials will be wearing masks, plastic visors,  we'll have acrylic shields, gloves, disinfectant," said Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt. "We'll be offering voters masks if they don't have one, and we'll be offering curbside voting for those who due to a disability cannot get into the polling place."

They are also trying to reduce the crowd size by giving you more time and space to vote.

"We're going to be opening a lot of early voting sites in a lot of days," Collicutt said. "Big places. Gyms, so there's lots of room for social distancing." 

Guilford County's plans are pretty similar Wisconsin's April 7 voting operation. After that election, a team of researchers found there was "no detectable surge" in coronavirus.

In all, 71 people either voted or worked at the polls tested positive, but "many of these people also experienced nonvoting exposures." They could have caught it elsewhere, officials explained.

In the end, scientists ruled voting in person on that day "was a low-risk activity."

Here's how low risk: They said your chances of catching coronavirus and dying from voting is about the same as driving from Winston-Salem to Asheville and dying in a car wreck.

Researchers also point out: we've learned a lot more about the virus since the election in this study. We should be even better at preventing coronavirus spread by November.

That said if you're in a high-risk category or still concerned know voting by mail is an option for you.

North Carolina will be the first state to mail out absentee ballots. The mailings begin on September 4. To get your ballot, you first have to fill out a request form. 

Still not sure about it? Then get an absentee ballot yourself. It's a three-step process:

1. Request the ballot --online, by mail, by phone or in-person
2. Vote
3. Return the ballot -- by mail or you can hand deliver it either during early voting to the polls or the elections office or on election day only at the elections office

Know these dates:

Oct. 27: The last day to request an absentee ballot is a week before the election

Oct. 9: The last day to register to vote

For more stories on Election 2020, follow reporter Ben Briscoe on Facebook.

Ben Briscoe. 3,155 likes · 222 talking about this. Weekend anchor/investigative reporter in North Carolina for WFMY News 2. Murrow winner and always on the hunt for a story which could make a difference.