New voting machines debut on Election Day in Berks

A polling place in Muhlenberg Township

READING, Pa. - Election Day is two weeks from Tuesday, and Berks County voters who choose to cast their ballot in person can do so with "peace of mind," according to the county's commissioners.

The county said Tuesday that each one of its 202 polling places will be electrostatically sanitized with COVID-19-effective deep-cleaning methods before it opens and after it closes on Nov. 3.

Poll workers will be provided with a mask, face shield, gloves, and hand sanitizer, and voters will be given a glove and a cotton swab for use on the voting machine's touch screen, officials said. Plexiglas splash guards will be in place at each poll book.

The commissioners said they are also encouraging voters to practice the standard safety precautions, including wearing a mask, and to use their own pen for signing the poll book.

"We believe these measures allow our constituents to vote in person safely and with peace of mind," said Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt, the chair of the county's election board. "Voting is an important civic duty and we want to ensure that everyone is able to complete a ballot without endangering their safety."

Anyone who prefers to vote by mail must apply for a mail-in ballot by 5 p.m. next Tuesday, Oct. 27. Mail-in ballots can be returned through the mail or dropped off at one of the county's two drop boxes.

One box is located in the main lobby of the Berks County Services Center off Reed Street, between Court and Washington streets; the other is located at the Berks County Agricultural Center at 1238 County Welfare Road in Bern Township.

The drop box hours are available on the county's website.

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