Healthy Polling Places

A turquoise banner with the text "Designing Healthy Polling and Voting"

As part of the broader Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project, a team of designers from the Stanford have launched efforts to use human-centered design to contribute to protecting voter participation in the 2020 presidential election. Amidst a global health pandemic, the efforts are focused on how to reduce the health risks and stress associated with voting The team is working with a range of partners who are involved in improving the voting experience from a design, implementation, and experience standpoint at the state and county level.

Click the banner above to visit the main page for these important resources, or click here to visit the site directly.




The 2020 coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the challenge of recruiting sufficient numbers of poll workers by taking out of commission reliable veteran poll workers, who, on average, are over 60 years old and at greater risk of suffering serious health complications from the coronavirus. Outside efforts, such as, have stepped up to recruit a new army of poll workers, but there is still a need for emergency poll workers, bilingual poll workers, and additional recruits in many areas of the country.

Memo / October 26, 2020
Fill 1

Most states, whether or not they have mask mandates in place, “strongly encourage” individuals to wear a mask when voting. Because masks could be a source of conflict between voters and poll workers, poll worker training will often include directions on how to deescalate such conflict by expediting maskless voters through polling places or providing them with mail-in ballots.

Memo / October 25, 2020
Fill 1

This white paper focuses on managing the volume of traffic through a polling place while accommodating the realities of voting amid the pandemic. It discusses how queuing theory can be harnessed to provide guidance about questions such as:

  • How many voting booths, check-in stations, and scanners do I need to handle anticipated turnout?
  • How long are the lines I should anticipate during the day?
  • If I have to limit the number of people in the room where voting occurs, how many people are likely to be waiting outside to vote?
White Paper / August 26, 2020
Fill 1

Other Resources for In-Person Voting

While many states have significantly ramped up their vote-by-mail capacity, some voters in state primaries and the general election this fall will vote in person. This page will compile resources for voters and officials to conduct those elections safely.

Public Health Guidance

CDC List of State and Territorial Health Department Websites. Website.

CDC Recommended Precautions for Preventing Spread of COVID-19 in Election Polling Locations, including Cleaning and Disinfection. (March 2020.)

COVID-19 Fact Sheet for Election Workers. (April 2020.)

Wearing Gloves for Ballot Handling. (Undated.)

Responding to the Pandemic

CISA Insights: Risk Management for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). (March 2020.)

 Estimated Costs of COVID-19 Election Resiliency Measures. (March 2020; updated April 2020.)

Ten Recommendations to Ensure a Healthy and Trustworthy 2020 Election. (March 2020.)

Become a Poll Worker

Election administrators across the country rely on citizen poll workers to staff polling places and deliver other key services, but COVID-19 has made it difficult for election officials to recruit poll workers for special elections and primaries in 2020. Some counties are especially in need of volunteers.  Please see the link below or in the menu at left for information on how you can apply to be a poll worker this November.

Poll Worker Information