No mask? No problem.
Across multiple counties, poll workers have been instructed to allow every to vote – whether or not they are wearing a mask, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Preparations are underway to accommodate them, lest they be accused of denying people their right to vote. To minimize possible confrontations, state election officials have issued guidelines to keep voters safe amid the coronavirus.
In Los Angeles County, maskless voters will be escorted to an outdoor area to cast their votes. Poll workers in San Bernardino and Riverside counties will provide face shields to voters around the unmasked.
And in Orange County, where resistance against mask-wearing has been particularly fierce throughout the pandemic, polling stations will be opened for an extra day beyond the state’s recommendation of four days, according to Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley.
Kelley told The Times that she expects voter turnout to be low, given that some 80% of Orange County voters turned in mail-in ballots in the March primary.
“I don’t think there’s any reason to believe we won’t see 8 or 9 out of 10 voters do the same for the November election,” he said.
Guidelines issued by Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office suggest that poll workers should be trained in de-escalation techniques, noting that “intense conversation and shouting” could not only exacerbate the situation but potentially spread the coronavirus more easily.
“The right to vote is of utmost importance,” the guidelines say. “Even voters neglectful of important health and safety precautions must be allowed to vote if they enter a voting location.”
Those who vote in person are expected to see tape on the ground for social distancing, separated booths, and lots of hand sanitizer.
The relatively lax guidelines for poll workers stand in stark contrast to California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s strict policies on coronavirus safety precautions.
Earlier this month the Democratic Governor told Golden State residents that if they go out to eat, they should be wearing a mask “in between bites” to protect themselves from COVID-19.
“Going out to eat with members of your household this weekend?” an Oct. 3 tweet from the governor’s office says. “Don’t forget to keep your mask on in between bites.”