Are Voters and Poll Workers Safe?

I have been in discussion with the Dekalb County Probate Judge, three people at the Secretary of State’s office and finally, with the Secretary of State himself regarding Covid-19 safety in the July 14th election.

I asked what provisions are being made to protect voters and poll workers with regard to Covid-19.

Here is what I have learned:

The Secretary of State has ordered all probate judges that 1) no building that has Covid-19 protocols can be used as a polling place, 2) you cannot prevent a sick voter from entering the polling place and voting (even if you know they have Covid-19) and 3) you cannot require a voter to wear a mask.

When I talked directly to the Secretary of State (John Merrill) himself, I asked how voters and poll workers are to be protected from an unmasked Covid-19 infected voter in an enclosed polling place.

He says that is the responsibility of the probate judge. He suggested that voters should vote absentee.

Note: Poll workers can’t work “absentee”. He said maybe nobody with Covid-19 would show up to vote.

I reminded the Secretary of State that most poll workers were in the “at risk” age group, that many of them are veterans and that they are confined in that enclosed space for 12 hours.

I asked him why he was placing the responsibility of voter and poll worker safety on the shoulders of 67 probate judges who have no training in the transmission of an infectious respiratory virus.

I suggested to him that perhaps his office should, in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health or, better yet, the CDC should prepare guidelines for safe voting. He refused.

Finally, I asked him if he would at least notify all the poll workers in Alabama of the rules he is imposing so that they can make an informed decision about whether they want to work the polls. He said he would not.

For all Alabama voters and poll workers: Your probate judge is required to let a Covid-19 infected voter into the polling place without a mask, and the Secretary of State refuses to tell you this.

For Dekalb County voters and poll workers: Your probate judge is doing everything within his power to keep you safe, but he cannot defy orders from the Secretary of State.

Toby Miller

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