There were enough hand sanitizer bottles and dispensers at my polling place yesterday to effectively kill every virus and form of bacteria in multiple counties.

And, while that didn't seem to be a problem for any of us filing through to cast our ballots, it did throw a good speedbump into a McHenry County polling spot.

Too much hand sanitizer on a voter's hands led to a voting machine's roller not "getting a good grip on the paper" and the equipment failing, according to McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio.

But the broken machine did not slow traffic or voting, and it's pretty typical for a handful of machines to buston Election Day, Tirio said. The couple of machines that broke down so far Tuesday were traded out and brought back to the clerk's office for repairs.

I'm sure you've discovered, as I have, that too much of that stuff on your hands makes them slippery and goopy, but it turns out that this much-needed COVID-19 fighter has problems with other things (like voting machines), too.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said this before Election Day:

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers may not be compatible with electronic voting equipment and may damage paper ballots. Poll workers and voters should ensure their hands are completely dry before handling these items. That’s in part because ballots that are wet or soggy from hand sanitizer are known to shred and clog electronic machines, as they have done in New Hampshire and Virginia.

You may not worry so much about gumming up a voting machine, but if you are a jewelry wearer you should be aware that frequent hand sanitizer use can also harm your rings, dulling the sparkle of gems and metals or even loosening your ring's setting over time.

It's the alcohol in the product that's doing the damage, in particular to white gold, which can become yellowed with over-use of alcohol-based products. Diamonds, platinum, yellow gold, or rose gold don't seem to be affected, but soft or porous stones, including pearl, lapis lazuli, turquoise, and opal, are more vulnerable to damage and should not be exposed to any chemicals including hand sanitizer.


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