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Polling guidelines need an overhaul

I was delighted to vote in person because it felt good to see our sacred right as Americans put into action.

However, I was horrified to see how poorly the flow of voters was managed, particularly with social distancing and a careless breach of my privacy. I had driven to my Blair County location full of hope and energy; when I left, I felt discouraged and deflated.

To be fair, most of the voters and polling staff were considerate of each other, but I had to wait in front of two men who decided masks were “fake news” and therefore not necessary.

Even though the floor was clearly marked in six-foot intervals, they (and the staff) were unable and/or unwilling to keep away from others in the cramped entry area.

I was further shocked to see that the one woman handing out paper ballots also chose not to wear a mask, which if not mandatory was highly encouraged. If she didn’t realize that, no one in charge managed to explain or fix it.

Regarding privacy, voters were ushered directly behind the chairs where I sat. Any number of them might have breathed or coughed right on my head as they passed by, which put everyone at a high risk for infection.

I soon realized that they could also look at my ballot if they chose to. At one point, I had a disturbing memory of middle school testing and how we were told to cover our papers.

Finally, I was instructed to have a staff member show me how to scan my ballot.

It was not difficult, but she actually watched me very carefully and easily saw all of my choices. Never, in over 40 years, have I felt so insecure in my ability to cast my vote in a free, safe and secure American polling location.

And so I walked back to my car with disappointment instead of joy.

Sloppy voting is unconscionable. I can only hope those in charge of voting next time will take safety and voter privacy more seriously.

Ideally, they will read last Tuesday’s Mirror headline, “Blair virus cases surging,” and regret not doing so today.

Becky Jorn

Altoona

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