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Elections officials prepare for presidential primary amid COVID-19 concerns

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Posted at 11:08 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-17 05:15:10-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- Elections officials across the Tampa Bay area are readying for Tuesday's primary as the coronavirus pandemic poses several challenges.

On Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump urged Americans to limit social groups to fewer than ten people, a hurdle for polling places on Election Day.

RECOMMENDED: Trump issues stricter guidelines to stop virus spread, Americans asked to limit gatherings to 10 people

"We've just passed that information along to our poll workers to not have more than ten people in the polling site, including our workers at any time," said Hillsborough County Elections Supervisor Craig Latimer.

Hillsborough County had to relocate ten polling sites ahead of Election Day, many were connected to nursing homes or assisted living facilities.

"It's been a very fluid situation," said Latimer. "We trained a lot more people expecting that we were going to have some drop-outs."

In Hillsborough County, about 100 poll workers called out for Election Day, many citing COVID-19 concerns.

RECOMMENDED: 300 Pinellas County poll workers quit ahead of Tuesday's presidential primary

Pinellas County officials are scrambling after more than 300 workers, about 25% of its polling workforce, quit.

"I guess I understand people being concerned about health, but I’m also more concerned about my country," said Hillsborough County worker Jim Bradley.

Bradley says he's not backing out of his duty because come Tuesday, too much is at stake.

"It's important that people recognize that the vote is important, that they need to come out and vote, which is why I do this."

If you are worried about voting in-person on Election Day, you can drop off a mail-in ballot curbside at the Elections Service Center, located at 2514 N. Falkenburg Road, between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

You can also designate someone to pick up your mail-in ballot and drop it off. But they need to sign two forms, found in the Who Can Pick Up My Vote-By-Mail Ballot section on the state's election division.

More information can be found here.