Local precincts prepare for voting during COVID-19

On Sunday morning, 18-year-old Matthew Luh masked up and voted early with his dad and brothers for the first time. 

"I waited 18 years for this and I feel like I should use my right to vote," Matthew said. 

After graduating during a pandemic, voting also came with new experiences. 

"Everyone had a mask, there was hand sanitizer," he said. 

His dad also noticed some differences. 

"They have a dirty spot for the pens that we use so they can sanitize after the fact, they have plenty of sanitizer around the room set up for us to keep us safe," said Larry Luh. 

Keeping voters safe is top priority for Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Michael Bennett. He said the primary allows voters and poll workers to get used to changes for the general election. 

"You could practically look at it as a test run, looking at dealing with the virus and dealing with the sanitization and the wipes and sanitizing the pens and making sure we have masks available and everything for the general election, which we know that we will more than triple the turn out of this election," he said. 

The virus has kept volunteers from returning to their polling duties. 

"We lost volunteers, about 350. We consolidated from 70 precincts down to 56, but we also opened up an additional early voting site out on Highway 64 just west of Lorraine Road," said Bennett. 

Supervisor Bennett said they'll be lucky to see a 30% turn out in the primary. For the general election, he expects about 90% of voters to participate.
Once the primaries close, Matthew Luh and his family will be ready for the general election. 

"It's a proud moment as a parent, having him participate," Larry said.  

For more information on early voting and wait times in Manatee County visit: https://www.votemanatee.com