MEMPHIS, Tennessee — The state is preparing for people who have COVID-19 or are quarantined to vote.
"We're looking at it through the eyes of an election official. There is no state law that says if you have COVID-19 or are quarantined that we can turn you away from voting. There's nothing that prohibits that," said Mark Goins, TN State Coordinator of Elections.
Goins said while they can't stop COVID positive people from voting, they don't want sick voters going to their regular polling locations. So Goins told election administrators around the state to set up specially designated polling locations for everyone's safety.
"When looking at the safety of voters, the safety of polling officials, we developed the best plan we could to keep individuals safe," said Goins.
In Shelby County, COVID-19 positive and quarantined people should instead go to a drive-thru polling location that will be set up at the election commission's operations center at Shelby Farms.
Linda Phillips, Shelby County Elections Administrator, explained how it will work.
"They will stay in their car. And they will stay in the car - we will see their ID through the window. They will roll down their window. We will hand them a ballot and their disposable pen," said Phillips. "We've got people who will be wearing gowns and gloves and masks and face shields, and the voter will be voting on a paper ballot."
Phillips said voters should call ahead so workers know they are coming.
"Many of the counties are either hiring current nurses or retired nurses, or people who have already had COVID-19 are being utilized to assist these voters," said Goins.
Goins said he is not encouraging people to disobey the health department or doctor's orders, but legally the state has to provide a place for everyone to vote.
"This is an accommodation for individuals who are going to go out and vote. We do not want them to be at a polling location with other voters. We want to isolate them," said Goins.