Voters are set to hit the polls on Tuesday for the state’s primary election, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, all municipalities are being required to implement health and safety restrictions at their voting locations.

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap released a set of guidelines for towns to model their safety plans after.

According to these guidelines, municipalities must follow the current 50-person gathering limit and make sure all voters are spaced 6 feet apart from one another while they’re checking in, waiting in line and voting at the booths.

All election workers are required to wear face masks or cloth coverings and voters are strongly encouraged to follow suit. However, that is not a requirement for voting. No one can be prevented from voting whether they wear a mask or not.

The state supplied voting locations with sanitization products to ensure that shared surfaces such as vote tabulators and ballot marking pens can be continually disinfected.

On top of the restrictions, many towns have had to add their Town Meeting warrants and school district budgets to the ballots because the pandemic prompted municipalities to cancel in-person gatherings where those votes are typically cast.

Because of the health restrictions and the number of ballot items, Dunlap has encouraged voters to give themselves plenty of time to mark their ballots, as the process is expected to take longer than usual.

WATERVILLE

The City of Waterville is going to great lengths to ensure voting is as safe as possible for residents in Tuesday’s primary.

Voting will be held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at The Elm at 21 College Ave.

“All of the election staff will be wearing face coverings,” Waterville City Clerk Patti Dubois said Monday morning. “We also have (Plexiglass) protective barriers between workers and voters at check-in and voter registration.”

Dubois said clean pens will be provided for voters and they will be sanitized between use. All surfaces will be wiped down regularly — at least every hour, according to Dubois.

Everyone will be distanced 6 feet apart, and only so many people will be allowed in the building at one time, so many will have to stand in line outside, she said.

“We have a gathering limit of 50 within the polling place, which includes staff,” Dubois said. “So we’ll be queuing people up outside and bringing them in line when there’s space available.”

Inside, four stations will be set up for voters, according to the first letter of their last names, and only three people may stand in each line. A limited number of voting booths will be in place because of the social distancing requirement.

“We are urging voters to wear face masks, but we can’t turn them away if they’re not wearing face masks,” Dubois said.

She asked for patience on the part of voters during Tuesday’s primary, which will be different than usual because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s difficult to administer,” she said. “We hope people are patient. We’re doing the best we can under really tough circumstances.”

FAIRFIELD

In Fairfield, voters will cast their ballots at the Community Center at 61 Water St.

Voting is set for 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters will be ushered through one entrance and out one exit to eliminate the possibility of crowding inside the building.

The floor has been marked to show voters where to stand while waiting to cast their ballots. The floor markings have been placed 6 feet apart to maintain social distancing.

The voting booths will be spread out, and staff will be sanitizing the pens in the booths after every use.

Town Manager Michelle Flewelling said that the pandemic has prompted a large portion of voters to cast their ballot by mail with an estimated 500 residents voting by absentee ballot.

Flewelling said she wants people to be patient at the polls, as this year’s ballot is longer than usual.

“Because we have the Town Meeting warrant, school budget and the state questions, our ballot alone is 30 questions,” Flewelling said during a phone call Monday. “So we really just need people to be patient while they’re voting because it will take longer.”

China Town Manager Dennis Heath said Monday voters will line up under the canopy of the white tent before voting in the building known as The Portable, left, at the China town office. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

CHINA

In China, voters will admitted into the town office at 571 Lakeview Drive in groups of seven.

This is to ensure that social distancing is possible and to eliminate any possibility of crowding, according to Town Manager Dennis Heath.

Voters will be met by staff outside the building to receive their ballots before they’re lead inside to the voting booths.

In another effort to implement social distancing, the voting booths have been separated into individual sections rather than grouped into quads, as they normally are.

Heath said that disinfectant and sanitizer will also be readily available throughout the building for staff and voters to use.

Every staff member at the office will be wearing a mask, according to Heath, and the town is encouraging every voter to wear one as well, though it is not a requirement for voting.

“We’re just doing our best to make sure everyone stays safe and healthy,” Heath said.

Heath also emphasized that Town Clerk Rebecca Hapgood played a big role in organizing these safety protocols.

“It’s really impressive, and I really need to give her credit,” Heath said.

Approximately 800 residents of China have cast their votes using absentee ballots, Heath said.

China’s ballot includes the Town Meeting warrant, the budget for Regional School Unit 18, the state questions and the primary choices.

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