HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Henrico County board members approved emergency changes to some polling locations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Three senior care facilities and a church will no longer serve as a place for the public to vote on November 3rd.
The four locations house the most vulnerable population in the pandemic, senior citizens. County leaders, election officials and facility directors don’t want to risk their health or spark a possible virus outbreak.
The board of supervisors decided to move forward with the last-minute emergency changes at their October 13th meeting.
The facilities that will be changed are Chestnut Grove Assisted Living Facility, Manor Care Stratford Hall, Cedarfield Retirement Community, and Mountain of Blessing Christian Center. All four polling locations will be relocated to county schools.
8News visited Cedarfield on Monday to learn more about their preparations for voting and to speak with residents. A majority of residents are loyal voters and eager to be involved in the election process, like Barbara Rose.
“I’ve never not voted since I was eligible to vote,” stated Rose.”But with COVID we really couldn’t have everyone coming in.”
Rose has lived at Cedarfield for three years and says many residents are elderly and have limited mobility. Going on to say that they took comfort in the ease of voting in their home, only walking a few steps to cast their ballot on the facility’s campus. However the polling change has forced many residents to reevaluate their voting plans.
“Like every other American we’ve been forced to adjust,” said Barbara Fishi, a 10-year Cedarfield resident. “I chose to vote on September 18th when I received my absentee ballot, however we’ve voted here for many years and enjoyed that opportunity to let the community come in as well.”
Wearing a “vote” mask during the interview, Fischi stresses the importance of the upcoming election and says Cedarfield has stepped up during these trying times to make voting smoother. Fischi says the facility offers shuttles for residents who want to vote early and hosted several educational workshops about voting options.
Carrying out her civic duty, Fischi shares her passion for volunteering and says she is disappointed she won’t be able to volunteer as a ‘poll greeter’ at Cedarfield this year.
“It’s disappointing,” Fischi told 8News. “We had two -hour shifts covering the doorways and greeting people with our presence not only welcoming them to Cedarfield, which is our home, but providing them with political information.”
Despite the disappointment, residents at Cedarfield understand the need to put safety first and agree it was the best decision.
“I think changing was the way to go,” said Rose. “I think it was a wise decision and necessary decision”.
The State Board of Elections does have the authority to make changes in the event of an emergency and has already approved the resolution. All four locations have been moved to county schools and voters in the designated precincts will receive two notices in the mail alerting them of the change, signage will be posted at the polling locations, and it’s posted on the registrars official website.
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