The Hernando County supervisor of elections wants everyone who is eligible to vote in the August primaries. The only thing is, gathering at polling places — or anywhere for that matter — isn’t ideal during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But there are ways to exercise your voting right while minimizing health dangers, and the best way is to “be prepared and don’t wait to the last minute,” according to Shirley Anderson, Hernando County supervisor of elections.

The primary election is Aug. 18. Poling locations are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Polling places can be crowded on election day, so early voting is one way to avoid the crowds. It begins Aug. 7, continuing through Aug. 15. Sites are listed at www.hernandovotes.com/Election-Info/Where-Do-I-Vote

In either case, Anderson is encouraging voters to be “election ready” before arriving at polling places. Voters can be best prepared by following her advice:

• Keep voter information up to date and ensure you are registered at www.HernandoVotes.com/Voters/Online-Voter-Registration

• Study and mark your sample ballot to cut down on time in polling room (sample ballots are available online at www.hernandovotes.com).

• Wear a mask or facial covering at election sites.

• Practice social distancing at the polling place and be patient and respectful to others.

• Voters are allowed to use their own pen (must be black or blue ballpoint).

For the ultimate in safety, vote by mail. The first round of mail-in ballots were mailed on July 14 to voters who requested them, but additional requests for mail-in ballots are being accepted until Aug. 8 at 5 p.m. Make the request at www.hernandovotes.com or by calling 352-754-4125. Voters have until 7 p.m. on election day to return mail-in ballots. New this year, voters can turn in their mail-in ballots at any early voting site during the early voting hours of operation. Mail-in ballots can be tracked online at www.hernandovotes.com.

In its official statement to the public, the Supervisor of Elections office noted, “Our number one priority is the health and safety of our election workers, our voters and staff.”

Election workers will be wearing gloves, masks and face shields, as well as using hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for sanitizing surfaces throughout the day. The supervisor of elections also has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 virus situation through frequent communications with federal, state and local partners.