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Grand Rapids prepares for in-person voting on election day

Voters and polling place workers should expect a different in-person voting experience on Aug. 4

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — On Aug. 4, some voters will head to the polls, and other voters will mail in their absentee ballots for the state primary election. In-person polling stations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Amid the pandemic, voters and polling place workers should expect a different election experience. 

13 ON YOUR SIDE got a look inside the restricted equipment room at Election Central, located at 201 Market Avenue SW in the city of Grand Rapids. City clerk Joel Hondorp says every election tabulator has been tested, secured and is ready to go on election day.

"Seventy-six of them here for our 76 precincts. Everything has been tested; we had a public accuracy test done yesterday. And as of today, all precincts will be open. We have election workers that have been going through training; we have been training new election workers all week," said Hondorp. 

He says some election workers that have been working the polling place for decades and love doing the job were heartbroken to choose between keeping themselves safe during the pandemic and serving the public on election day. But, he says a lot of other people have stepped up and applied to work at the precinct on Aug. 4.

"We're providing gloves; we're providing a gallon jug of sanitizer. We ask voters that if they use hand sanitizer to make sure their hands are dry before they touch a ballot. Moisture and paper ballots don't go well together," says Hondorp. "Precincts are already kind of socially distanced, but we are providing a six-foot piece of twine and painters tape so they can mark off spaces."

Hondorp says they are not expecting a big turnout at the polling locations across Grand Rapids on the primary election day since so many voters opted to vote via absentee ballot. But he says the precincts will be open, the ballots will be ready and they will be ready to go.

To prepare for election day, check out your registration information and polling place location here. 

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