Osage election officials set Election Day COVID-19 precautions

Photo caption: Osage Minerals Councilman Everett Waller wears a face mask and points to the Wahzhazhe Elections voting guidelines to maintain public health. SHANNON SHAW DUTY/Osage News

With COVID-19 coronavirus concerns still at issue, the Wahzhazhe Elections Board and staff set precautionary measures for in-person voting during the 2020 Osage Nation General Election.

Those COVID-19 precautions include requiring voters to wear masks and gloves to enter the polling place at the Osage Nation Civic Center in Pawhuska. The Election Office designated officials to screen voters for potential fevers and signs of illness by taking temperatures at the entrance. Election officials selected the Civic Center earlier this spring so its larger space can be arranged to keep social distancing measures in place as recommended by health entities including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

According to the Election Day procedures, voters will be asked questions of whether they feel sick or whether they have been around anyone with COVID-19. Voters will also receive a free mask/ gloves to proceed with checking in with election workers to receive their ballot to vote at booths set apart for distancing measures.

Those who do have a fever or do not wish to wear a mask/ gloves can request voter assistance. Election workers will assist by delivering a ballot and pen to those individuals at their vehicle to vote.

These procedures are among several recommendations for Election Day preparations that the Election Board and staff received after consulting with Dr. Ron Shaw, CEO/ Chief Medical Officer of the Wah-Zha-Zhi Health Center. The election officials brainstormed and met twice in May to set the procedures and recommendations.

Election Supervisor Alexis Rencountre said her office visited with the CHR and Emergency Management offices to request workers to screen voters at the polling place entrance. She also noted those workers will be available to take temperatures of attendees at the candidate campsites in the government campus park on Election Day.

Election Board Chairwoman Shannon Lockett said the voter assistance for those who cannot enter the building is the same option available for voters requesting assistance due to disability.

“We are not denying anyone the right to vote, they can vote in their car because we can bring a ballot out,” Lockett said.

Other Election Day procedures include:

- The floor will be marked every 6 feet indicating where voters need to stand in line to follow social distancing guidelines.

- All Election Board, staff and polling place workers will wear masks and gloves throughout the day.

- The election workers will be placed at least 6 feet apart at the check-in tables.

- Voters will enter and exit the voting areas through separate access points.

- The voting booths will be placed at least 6 feet apart and will be cleaned throughout the day after people vote.  

Election Day voting is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Civic Center located at 1449 W. Main St. in Pawhuska. After voting closes, the ballots will be counted and the election officials will announce results in front of the Chambers Building on the campus.