Sanitization firms use new approach at venues acting as voting sites

Public assembly venues are lining up for election duty, and janitorial service companies are stepping up to keep those arenas, stadiums and convention centers as safe as possible for voters and workers.

“Stadiums and arenas may not be hosting games and concerts right now, but they’re ideal for socially distant voting,” said Art Rodriguez, vice president of operations for sports and entertainment at ABM Industries. “These facilities are well-suited to managing crowds and ensuring voters can cast their ballots safely.”

Venues as polling places

Art Rodriguez

Cleaning protocols are different when a venue serves as a voting center as opposed to hosting a traditional event like a basketball game or a concert, Rodriguez said.

“One major difference is that people are going to private polling boxes one after another,” he said. “During a typical event there is ongoing policing and monitoring touch points in common areas, elevators, escalators, suites, etc. With the venues transformed into voting centers there will be much more controlled and far fewer touch points than a traditional event, but they will still require frequent disinfection after each person uses the poll box.”

Having people going in and out of a venue on a fairly constant basis “affects which areas we will focus on for disinfection and how often,” Rodriguez said.

“In a typical event, visitors flood in and out at the same time,” he said. “Some areas, like entrances, don’t need as much monitoring during the actual event. For the voting centers, we’ll be focused on those areas a little more frequently because they’ll constantly be in use.”

ABM is working with several of its venue clients to prepare and maintain facilities for voters. Among them are the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, Calif., where voter registration, ballot drop-offs and early voting are taking place; Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., which is also serving as a polling location; and Staples Center in Los Angeles, which opened as a voting center Oct. 14 and will operate through Nov. 3.

As with any event in the COVID-19 era, “signage, visible cleaning personnel and hand hygiene products are all crucial to giving voters confidence that disinfection is being taken seriously,” Rodriguez said.

In response to the pandemic, ABM has turned to infectious disease experts and industrial hygienists to develop EnhancedClean, described as a three-step disinfection and certification process with a focus on ensuring all cleaning personnel are trained and employing methods and protocols effectively, Rodriguez said.