“Voting in a pandemic – this is hard. How are we going to do it?”

That was the rhetorical question asked by Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt when he explained to the Guilford County commissioners what to expect in the 2020 election in which voting is about to get underway.

“Our goal here in Guilford County, the Board of Elections goal, and across this state, is to spread the voters out over time and distance,” was the short answer that Collicutt provided at a Thursday, Aug. 27 work session of the commissioners.

“How do we do that? We are going to have a lot of early voting, in large rooms,” he said.

According to Collicutt, one plan submitted to the NC Board of Elections would mean Guilford County would offer 87 percent more early voting hours available than in the 2016 general election. He also said that those venues for early voting will include places like gyms and basketball courts where there can be a good deal of distance between voters waiting in line and casting their ballots.

“Over 17 days we hope a lot of voters vote early,” he said, adding that that was already the trend. Collicutt said that, in past recent elections, about two-thirds of Guilford County’s voters have voted early.

This year, especially, election officials want that trend to continue.

He said there will also be many more people voting by mail this time around and that, too, should help reduce large crowds at polling places on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

There are plenty of other changes being made to protect poll workers and voters. For instance, in the past, everyone has shared pens without giving it a second thought, but this year voters will have “single-use” pens that they can keep as an election souvenir.