Mask requirements at election polls cause concern for voters and workers

Mask requirements at election polls cause concern for voters and workers
Channel 2's Mike Petchenik looked into the different safety measures metro counties are taking to keep those workers healthy. (WSBTV.com News Staff)

ATLANTA, Ga. — Early voting in Georgia will start in just a few weeks.

Some poll workers are concerned about the health and safety of people working the polls and those casting their ballots.

Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik spoke with some of those concerned people and looked into what precautions counties are taking to keep people safe at the polls.

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Polling locations across Fulton County will require poll workers to wear masks on the job.

When it comes to voters, state law prevents counties from forcing those casting their ballots to wear masks. The lack of a mask mandate has some people concerned.

“Sooner or later somebody’s going to get sick and I don’t want to take that chance,” a Canton resident said.

The Cherokee County retiree would only speak to WSB anonymously but said he had planned to volunteer as a poll worker in the General Election. After attending Cherokee County training, he backed out.

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Another Cherokee County resident, who also didn’t want to be identified, said she had the same concern.

“We went in and only half the people were wearing masks,” she said. “We’re all in line. There’s no social distancing whatsoever. I take a glance around the room and notice at least 50 percent don’t have their masks on.”

Cherokee County provided the following statement when asked about these concerns:

“We are providing masks and face shields to poll workers choosing to wear them. By law, we are not allowed to require voters to wear masks to vote.”

The governor’s executive order prohibits requiring voters to wear masks because a spokeswoman told us they don’t want anyone disenfranchised for showing up without one.

WSB found individual counties have different requirements for their poll workers.

Fulton, Henry, Douglas, Clayton, and Rockdale counties will require poll workers to have masks on.

In Cherokee and Paulding counties, it’s only recommended that poll workers wear masks.

Despite no masks required, many counties will be offering them to people as they come to vote, and they will limit the numbers of people inside and keep workers separated by plexiglass when possible.

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