By Isabel Bennett

You gotta be kidding me? What are you talking about, Nurse? Yes it can! Studies about the health impact of civic engagement (including voting) suggest that people who vote have stronger social networks, better mental health, and fewer risky health behaviors later in life (Dr. Lacy C. Hobgood –

So it’s not just about you deciding who leads our country, your decision to go out and vote during COVID has good benefits for your health. However, you must do your part to take safety measures. So here are some safety measures you should consider as you plan your voting trip.

1) Decide with your family to go at the same time but early to avoid, not the crowd this time, but the long wait in a long line. This decision gives emotional and physical support to each other within the family. In addition, you are aware of where each family member is and the fact that the whole family has activated their constitutional right as a citizen of Belize. THAT’S AN AWESOME FEELING just to write that safety tip! Imagine what you will feel like after you have all cast your votes as a family.

2) Please do NOT go out to vote if you are sick. This is self-love. Being sick makes you vulnerable to other illnesses other than COVID. But do encourage others by text messages and calls to and vote.

3) Choose the best-suited facemask to wear for Election Day. This will lessen your anxiety and it will keep you from constantly having to touch your facemask to adjust it. So you will be less preoccupied with an ill-fitting mask and will be more attentive to your surroundings.

4) Take a snack and some water or juices as your wait may be a bit lengthy. If you take care of your hunger spams, you would more than likely be discouraged from leaving the line before voting. Plus again, food makes you more alert to your surroundings and things happening around you. And of course, you will be less irritable with glucose to the brain.

5) I strongly suggest that you take a well-sharpened pencil even though pencils will be provided. With your own property, ONLY you would have touched it.

6) AVOID touching the surfaces in the voting cubicle as many hundred people would probably have touched the surfaces before you if you go to vote late.

7) Sanitize IMMEDIATELY AFTER dropping your ballot in the box to avoid wetting your ballot and causing it to be thrown out.

8) Also, IMMEDIATELY AFTER dropping your ballot in the box, walk safely outside the polling station, do not stop to chat and be very mindful of keeping social distance as you exit.

8) Prepare your backpack/purse with your voter’s ID, comfortable clothing and footwear from the night before. In planning this way, you will feel less rushed if you start running late.

So if you or your loved ones were feeling worried about voting in this historic election of 2020, I totally understand. Yesterday October 21, I felt a bit of anxiety as I went out to nominate Mrs. Dolores Balderamous Garcia for Belize Rural Central. But eventually, that anxiety vanished as I activated my social distancing mode, I was wearing my best facemask and had my hand sanitizer locked to my waist.

And yes, it was only about 50 persons around in the whole scheme of things to include policemen and women. But I can honestly say, I felt very safe because I went prepared. So on November 11, your decision to go out and vote will impact your life, your family, your community, and our country.

Make yu vote count in 2020! Todos ganamos! Ganeitiwa sun wagia! Everyone fi win!