How coronavirus is affecting Washington’s presidential primary

Mar 10, 2020, 6:22 AM | Updated: 8:04 am
Coronavirus, Washington presidential primary...
A worker wears gloves to tally a Washington primary ballot. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

With Washington set for its presidential primary Tuesday, the state has taken measures to ensure that the recent coronavirus outbreak doesn’t stand in the way of voters.

KIRO Radio, KTTH Primary Guide

While people won’t have to worry about the risk of infection in a voting booth situated in a crowded room, paper ballots come with their own risks, particularly to those tallying votes.

“We’ve been talking to Department of Health and Department of Homeland Security, and they’re concerned that they don’t know how long the virus lives on an envelope that’s been licked,” Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman told Seattle’s Morning News.

To that end, Wyman’s office is urging voters not to seal their ballot return envelopes with saliva, instead asking that people use a wet sponge or cloth.

That’s not all Wyman’s office is doing to mitigate the growing concerns over coronavirus, though.

“We’ve done things on the back end, like wearing gloves when you’re processing ballots,” Wyman noted.

“It’s mandatory,” King County Elections Director Julie Wise confirmed in a recent interview with KIRO 7.

Additionally, the processing room for mail-in ballots is will be stocked with antiseptic wipes and hand sanitizer.

Sec. of State Wyman: Washington votes matter in early 2020 primary

Presidential campaigns in Washington are taking precautions of their own. Neither Joe Biden nor Bernie Sanders have election night celebrations planned in Seattle.

“We have to be very responsible about what we’re doing with gatherings,” Sanders campaign Field Director Shaun Scott told KIRO 7.

KIRO 7 TV staff contributed to this report

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How coronavirus is affecting Washington’s presidential primary