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This article is free to all readers because it includes information important to public safety and health in our community.

A COVID-19 diagnosis and accompanying quarantine won't prevent you from voting absentee Friday and Saturday in Cole County.

The County Clerk's office will provide curbside absentee voting for those who have been diagnosed and quarantined with COVID-19, County Clerk Steve Korsmeyer said Wednesday.

The service will be provided 1-4 p.m.Friday and 8 a.m.-noon Saturday outside the Cole County Courthouse Annex on East High Street. Residents are asked to call the clerk's office, 573-634-9101, in advance so his staff can prepare the absentee paperwork in advance. The location for the voting at the annex will be clearly marked, he said.

"By calling ahead, we can get their pertinent information on the ballot envelope," Korsmeyer said. "We are asking those who do come to wear a mask and gloves, and stay in their vehicles.

"Volunteers representing the local Democrat and Republican parties will have masks and gloves on and will come and give the ballots to the voters. They'll then stand 6 feet away. And when the voters are done, they'll take their ballots and bring them back to our office."

Initially, state health officials had said those diagnosed with COVID couldn't leave their homes to vote, Korsmeyer said. However, other county clerks have decided to allow voters in their counties who had been diagnosed to vote via curbside, so he said he decided he would do the same thing.

"We had folks who have been diagnosed calling and asking to do this," Korsmeyer said. "Our county health department director, Kristi Campbell, checked with other health officials. And after their discussions, she told me as long we have gloves and masks on the volunteers should be OK, and that there was little chance of picking up anything from the ballots themselves."

Korsmeyer said he wanted to thank the volunteers for stepping up to do this and said they may do this again Monday and Tuesday.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, Korsmeyer said, they are having "amazing crowds" coming into the clerk's office on the second floor of the annex to cast absentee ballots.

"We're doing over 300 a day, and as of Wednesday afternoon, we had a total of 4,556 absentee ballots cast," Korsmeyer said. "We're also expecting 4,000 absentee mail-in ballots to open."

He continued: "We've got 54,000 registered voters in this county, and I'm still saying the voter turnout will be around 70 percent, but we'll probably have 20 percent of those voters already casting a ballot.

"It just shows people like to early vote," he added. "A lot of those coming in and voting are over 65 or have pre-existing conditions, so we're glad we can do it. We may end up having less people coming out to the polling locations because of this."

This article was edited at 7:36 a.m. Oct. 29, 2020, to correct the days of the curbside voting event which is scheduled for 1-4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30, and 8 a.m.-noon Saturday, Oct. 31.

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