What to expect if you head to the polls for the August primary election amid a pandemic

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OLATHE, Kan. — There’s just one week until the primary election, and poll workers across the metro are getting ready for a different kind of election day experience.

Advance voting in seven Johnson County locations has been a training ground for the big day, and it’s gone smoothly so far.

Hopefully that success continues at all 168 polling locations that will be open next Tuesday.

“It’s the finale of the most unusual election we’ve probably ever conducted here in Johnson County,” Johnson County Election Commissioner Connie Schmidt said.

An unusual election in the most unusual of times.

So far, about 6,000 of the more than 400,000 registered voters in Johnson County have voted early, and the election board sent out a record 105,000 mail-in ballots.

Schmidt took FOX4 through what people voting in-person should expect with the new touchless voting method. First you’ll likely see poll workers behind sneeze shields.

“I would show my I.D. to the poll worker, and then I would be responsible for placing it here so they can scan it to bring up my record,” Schmidt said.

During registration, each voter gets an instrument with a pen on one end and a stylus on the other that voters will use to sign their name during registration.

As voters move on to the familiar voting booths, which are cleaned by poll workers between each voter, people voting by paper ballot use the pen side of the instrument to indicate their votes, while those using the electronic machines again use the stylist.

When complete, it’s up to the voters to enter their ballots.

“They would insert their ballot in the machine with a paper ballot at the bottom into the tabulation machine,” Schmidt said. “Exit and get there ‘I’ve Voted’ sticker, and we have the standing hand sanitizer on the way out.”

Poll locations will be following COVID-19 safety practices, including social distancing and mask wearing, which is mandatory in Johnson County.

“If we have a voter, he doesn’t have one, we will have masks available if they need one,” Schmidt said. “But we cannot force them to put one on in order to vote.”

For people who want to vote Tuesday in-person but don’t want to go inside, there will also be curbside voting opportunities.

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