COLUMBUS (WCMH)– Secretary of State Frank LaRose said earlier this week that the statewide mask mandate would require voters to wear a face covering when heading to the polls but they would not enforce the order.
This has some poll workers, who will be required to wear a mask, concerned for their safety.
“My initial reaction is that I will not be working at the polls. If it’s mandated, then it should be mandated,” said Michele Cornish, who has signed up to be a poll worker in 2020.
Cornish has been a poll worker in two other elections and said it’s her civic duty to volunteer and would like to see more safety precautions taken.
“This virus, COVID-19, seems to be so easily passed on to other people. I don’t think any chances should be taken right now,” said Cornish.
Secretary LaRose explained voters who show up without a face covering will be met at the door by a poll worker and then offered alternatives. They will be offered a mask and can vote outside, or if they insist they will be able to enter the polling location and vote without a face covering.
“If you say this is my right and I’m here to vote and I insist on it, then we’re going to keep everyone else away from you, we’re going to carefully hand you your ballot, check your ID and get you out the door with an I voted sticker,” said LaRose.
Governor Mike DeWine agreed with Secretary LaRose’s plan, both having said denying someone the right to vote because they aren’t wearing a mask would be wrong.
“We do not expect and we would not want anyone who works at the poll to be put in a position where they have to tell someone ‘Oh you can’t vote unless you put a mask on.’ We’re not going to do that,” said Governor DeWine.
Ohio is in need of poll workers due to the pandemic. LaRose says 35,000 volunteers will be needed on election day but Cornish believes some workers will feel like she does.
“I would say there are probably some that are going to have the same reaction,” said Cornish. “If masks are not going to be mandated or required, [people] are going to choose not to work the polls.”