Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Crushing COVID-19 Crisis: 9 Steps For Voting In-Person Safely
By Geoffrey Mount Varner, MD, MPH Special to the Sentinel
Published October 29, 2020

Dr. Geoffrey Mount Varner (Courtesy Photo)

As mail-in balloting becomes less of an option, communities can be safe while in-person voting.

Because of COVID-19, “We are all in this together” has become the national mantra. But Black and Brown people often have different views of the masses. As we know, the pandemic is impacting Black communities disproportionately. And now, it is time to vote, and again, the disproportionate concept rears its head.

It has been shown that areas of the country that have a high concentration of Black voters often experience longer lines to vote. And if not properly armed with information, this could lead to lower voter turnout in those demographic areas.


Back to the disproportionate theme again.  As a result of the uneven impact of COVID-19 on Blacks and the elderly, there is a reasonably greater fear of waiting in lines and later be exposed to the Coronavirus. And these fears are not unfounded.

I have a mother who is in the high-risk group, sisters, a wife, a daughter, and a son who is also high-risk due to asthma.  As a board-certified ER doctor who works on the front lines treating COVID patients, I have been educating the community five-to-six times a week on the virus. It started with me needing to keep my mother and her friends appropriately informed on the latest COVID research. As a result of daily studying and writing, I found myself speaking to about 2 million viewers a week on Facebook and YouTube.

Dawn Williams Strobert safely voting in Phoenix, AZ.  (Courtesy Photo)

There are a few simple concepts that you must understand to be sure you are protected and armed with the right equipment and information.

But don’t too alarmed, because if you are exposed to someone who is COVID-19 positive does not that means you will necessarily be infected with the virus. There are two main environmental factors that can have a major impact on your risk of contracting COVID:

Virus Concentration

1. The level of the concentration of the virus that you are exposed to is a huge factor. If a large amount of the virus is delivered to your mouth or nose – the two main entry points for the virus to your body – the greater the likelihood that you will contract COVID.  Besides socially distancing, the easiest way to limit the concentration of exposure to your mouth and nose is to wear a mask. The more virus particles your mask can impede, the lower the concentration of the virus entering into your body.

Duration of Exposure


2. The shorter the duration of exposure to the virus, the lower the likelihood of it entering your mouth or nose. In short, a well-ventilated area disperses the virus and limits your exposure.

Nicole Rocher voting safely in Los Angeles. (Courtesy Photo)

With the above information as the backdrop, here are nine things that you can do to greatly decrease your exposure to the virus while voting. As a crisis and split-second-decisions national expert, I wanted to use my experience in helping to prepare the community to stay safe. Based on my research, I have assessed that it is possible and reasonable to vote safely in person if you do the following:

1. Stay socially distanced while waiting in line.

2. Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose. If you don’t have a COVID-19-approved mask, then double mask.

3. Bring hand sanitizer to use before and after entering the voting area.

4. Wear protective latex gloves.

5. Bring disinfectant wipes to sanitize the areas you’ll touch in the voting booth.

6. Bring your own pencil and pen just in case.

7. Consider purchasing a personal battery-operated fan that goes around your neck (available on Amazon) to help decrease the concentration and exposure of any potential active virus in the air.

8. Bring an umbrella so that if it rains, you do not have to wait in a crowded, unventilated corridor.

9. Remember to properly dispose of gloves and items used in the voting process before you re-enter your car or home.

During the 2020 Presidential election, in-person voters wearing protective clothing and masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Photo)

If the lines are long, be patient but diligent but stay safe! Vote like your life depends on it, because it may very well be. We all have to do our part to change the world. Why? Because the world needs to change, and voting is the right thing to do. Please vote and stay safe!

Dr. Geoffrey has 25 years of making real life and death split-second decisions. He holds degrees or has received medical training from university and schools including, Hampton, Harvard, Wayne State, George Washington, University of Maryland – Shock Trauma, and Johns Hopkins universities.

He resides in Maryland with his wife and two teenaged sons.

For more information visit splitseconddecisions.com or email info@splitseconddecisions.com


LinkedIn – Geoffrey Mount Varner

Check out the gallery of safe in-person voters across the country!

Jonathan McMillan, Georgia

Floyd Pettaway, VA

Cecelia Price-Jones, MA

Bonita Parker, MA

Perry L. Paylor

Javondlynn Dunagan, ILL

Natalie Mc Grady and Bill Wiley, MN

Cori, Kevin and Michelle Cummings

Judith Malveaux-Ellerbe, NC

Michelle Edwards-m

Jennifer Paschall Abubakari

Robin N. Boyd


Categories: COVID-19 | Family | Health | News (Family) | Safety
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