Elkhart County poll workers are backing out with no Election Day mask mandate
ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. - Elkhart County and the State of Indiana are under mask mandates that are set to expire before Election Day. Election officials do not know if they can enforce their own mask mandate. It all has older veteran poll workers saying "If masks aren't required, then I'm not working."
Elkhart County Democratic Chairman Chad Crabtree said he has had multiple longtime poll workers tell him they will not work this election if there is not a mask mandate, saying they felt unsafe during the primary in June.
"This past primary election, it was one of the requirements, but a number of poll workers didn't wear their mask," Crabtree said. "The Democratic appointees felt very uncomfortable with that."
One former poll worker who did not want to give his name said he worked the primary and said wearing a mask is not a tall task but acknowledged that a number of his fellow volunteers did not do so.
"Three of us wore masks for 14 hours that day," the poll worker said. "It wasn't that difficult. We didn't have a problem breathing or anything like that, but even the supervisor didn't wear a mask."
Elkhart County election officials like County Clerk Christopher Anderson said if the county of state governments do not renew their mask mandates, there may not be one for Election Day.
"I'm a little uncertain that the election board has the authority to issue a mask mandate," Anderson said. "It's my understanding that the only entity that can issue a mask mandate is the director of the county health department."
Anderson said if organizers come up short on poll workers for November, officials will have to either limit the number of poll workers at polling stations or eliminate some polling sites, both of which would cause long delays in the voting process and could force voters to wait for hours.
Elkhart Republican Chairman Dan Holtz said he has not had volunteers tell him they are concerned about the lack of a mask mandate. He said he actually had a problem with the opposite during the primary. His volunteers did not want to wear a mask the whole day. He said mask mandate or not, there will be enough poll workers for Election Day.
"I think (having a mask mandate or not) will be no effect because I'm sure there are enough people who are willing to do their civic duty and work the polls and complying or not complying is not that big of a deal."
If you are interested in volunteering to work polling places in Elkhart County this November, contact the County Democrats at 574-607-3241 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact the County Republicans at 574-238-6239.