Virus concerns? Bring a pen to the polls

Galvin outlines voting preparations for coronavirus

CONCERNS ABOUT the coronavirus are seeping into Super Tuesday preparations, as Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin suggested voters heading to the polls bring along their own pens to avoid fingering the same pens used by other voters.

Galvin said he is urging local voting officials to regularly clean voting compartments, have additional election officials on standby if some workers stay away, and provide extra pens to cut down on repeat uses.

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Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

“The one common piece of equipment that might be used is the pen, so we’re suggesting that local election officials have extra pens, replacement pens, but also allow and encourage voters who might be concerned to bring their own pens,” Galvin said. “The only caveat on that is please do not bring a red pen because the machines will not read red. It would have to be hand-read.”

Galvin is estimating a strong turnout on Tuesday, with 1.5 million Democrat and 350,000 Republicans casting votes. Even with those high numbers, the total would be below the more than 2 million ballots cast four years ago.

The last-minute withdrawal of Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer may frustrate voters who voted early or cast absentee ballots. Galvin said the more than 200,000 people who voted early will not be able to change their vote. Those who voted absentee, he said, can change their vote, but it will require them to get to the polls and obtain a replacement ballot before poll workers process the absentee ballots. Galvin suggested anyone wanting to change their vote should get to their polling place early.