Kansas company makes shields for elections; able to bring back furloughed staff

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — With a second wave of COVID-19 expected to hit Kansas in the fall, there is a push to make sure polling locations are safe. Under the CARES Act, $400 million in federal funding has been dispersed to the states, specifically to be used for 2020 elections. Kansas received $4.6 million that will go towards reimbursing counties for voting related purchases, personal protective equipment and other voting safety measures.

All Kansas polling locations will receive a personal protective equipment (PPE) kit that includes face masks, disposable gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray. Counties should be receiving these kits this week. Disposable stylus pens will also be shipped to polls for voters to use if they don’t want to touch the voting machine screen.

The Secretary of State’s office has also enlisted the help of Kansas and Missouri-based company Binswanger Glass to make 2,200 plexiglass shields to protect both voters and poll workers from the coronavirus spread. This partnership allowed the company to bring their employees back to work after being furloughed due to the coronavirus.

Manager of the Topeka Binswanger Glass branch said he was happy to be able to bring his staff back.

“I thought, ‘man this would be a great opportunity to get my folks back to work,'” said Jason Tomlinson. “So I jumped right on it.”

The shields are specially made in Topeka and will be packaged and shipped out to counties by the end of the month. From there, counties will assemble the shields to be used at polling locations. All necessary tools and storage bags will be provided for counties.

“We’ve tried very hard to be responsive and we understand that the need is there and it’s pressing. So quick turn times have been something that we try to accomplish here,” added Tomlinson.

From start to finish, each shield takes approximately 45 minutes to make.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make it safe, but don’t ever be afraid to vote. Get out there and go vote,” said Secretary of State Scott Schwab.

Secretary Schwab added that if people don’t feel safe voting in person, they can vote by mail. According to Schwab, Kansas has received more than 60,000 mail-in ballot requests already, the most the state has ever seen.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020 is the primary election; you must register to vote by July 14. November 3, 2020 is the general election; you must register to vote by October 14.

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