January 26, 2021
Election officials: Don't let coronavirus scare you into disinfecting ballot

Election officials: Don’t let coronavirus scare you into disinfecting ballot


This story is part of Elections 2020, CNET’s coverage of the voting in November and its aftermath.

Some voters, apparently concerned about contracting COVID-19 from surfaces, are ruining their mail-in paper ballots by disinfecting them. Voters have brought in more than 100 damaged ballots to the local registrar’s office, KCRA-TV reporter Stephanie Lin reports from California’s Sacramento County — and at least one person tried to kill potential germs by putting a ballot in a microwave oven. 

“Don’t do this if you want your vote to count,” Lin tweeted alongside a photo of a smeared ballot stamped SPOILED. Lin also shared a photo of a ballot that appeared to show a burn mark.

Ballots sent to voters prior to Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3 were processed by machine weeks ago and are safe to handle, Lin reported. 

The damaged ballots shown were not mailed in, but brought in by voters who were given new ones, said Courtney Kanelos of the Sacramento County registrar of voters. Those voters received new ballots and voted.

“If a damaged ballot is cast, it would be remade with several teams reviewing and confirming the voter intent before it would be counted,” Kanelos said.

While coronavirus transmission is believed to occur predominantly via prolonged and close person-to-person contact, scientists are still studying how it may spread via contaminated surfaces. New research conducted by scientists at Australia’s national science agency, suggests SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can linger on non-porous surfaces for longer than expected under laboratory conditions.





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