7 UpFront: Staying safe while going to the polls in a pandemic

Posted at 6:44 PM, Oct 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-28 19:47:06-04

(WXYZ) — With the election just days away, the push is on for safe, in-person voting during the pandemic.

Physician and former Michigan Congressman Dr. Joe Schwarz has been part of the VoteSafe Michigan program, along with Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Their goal is to make sure people are safe at polling places.

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"VoteSafe Michigan has been around for a few months and what we are trying to do, with the cooperation of county clerks, city clerks, township clerks, polling place officials, is to make certain from a sanitary standpoint, the polling places are as safe as we possibly can make them," Schwarz says. "Follow all the rules. Masks, social distancing, and scrub them down. Make people as confident as they can be in this atmosphere that they can go to the polls and vote. That's what we want them to do."

Staying safe while heading to the polls during a pandemic.

He also reminds people they can still go to the polls and register to vote and obtain an absentee ballot on election day.

"You can, and I'm sure some people will do that. Although, as the governor and the secretary of state just mentions, the number of absentee ballots is amazing," Schwarz says.

Schwarz also says he thinks ballots are going to where they're supposed to go.

"I believe they are getting into the right hands and I believe it's not appropriate to make accusations that they are not," Schwarz says. "If you drop the ballot off in a designated ballot box, if you take a ballot to the clerk's office in whatever jurisdiction you might live, it's going to be counted. If you mail it now, US Postal Service, it might be a little iffy because the Postal Service is a little slow in the last few months. So, if you're gonna vote now, you're gonna vote absentee, put the ballot in your pocket, put it on the front seat of your car, drive it to the clerk's office, and walk into the clerk's office and give it to them. That way you're absolutely certain that it will be counted."

Schwarz also addressed the debate surrounding open carry at the polls.

"I lecture at the University of Michigan as well and that topic came up in my class just last week. Open carry, even 100 feet or more away from a polling place, is inappropriate," Schwarz says. "But the court decision was just handed down that it's legal and people can open carry that close to polling places. I would say, as was just mentioned again, I don't think that police don't have to surround the area, but police have to be, essentially, on-call if there are any problems. Quite frankly I don't think there will be any and I hope that we are making too much of this, but people having weapons around polling places in plain view is not good, it's not American and I plead with people don't do that. There's no need for it. You want to do something good that day? Go and vote."

Schwarz also has some advice for anyone who feels harassed while at the polls.

"You call 911," he says. "You call local law enforcement, whatever jurisdiction you might be in, call local law enforcement and say something's going on here that's inappropriate and I wanted to report it. You don't just let it pass."

Watch the full 7 UpFront interview in the video player above.