LEWISVILLE — Voters were turned away from voting at the Frederick P. Herring Recreation Center polling location in Lewisville Thursday, Oct. 15 when it was closed due to a poll worker testing positive for COVID-19.
Despite Democratic poll workers wearing masks to prevent the possible spread of coronavirus, many Republican poll workers refuse to do so. The Democrat workiers say some Republican poll workers are also creating hostile work environments by bullying Democratic poll workers who wear masks.
According to Frank Phillips, Denton County’s elections administrator, “Denton County Elections provides masks and face shields for our poll workers and highly encourages their use. We have received numerous comments about poll workers and voters who are not wearing masks.”
But Phillips noted that the Denton County Elections Administration cannot mandate that poll workers wear masks due to Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order No. GA-29 issued July 2, 2020. That executive order specifically exempts poll workers and voters from having to do so.
Emily Meisner, a Democratic election liaison, said that Republicans are using the mask exemption as a way to bully Democrats and suppress the vote. “Republicans who refuse to wear masks are willing to risk people’s lives, shut down polling locations and deprive voters of their right to vote,” she said. “Should having the right to not wear a mask infringe upon another’s right to preserve their health and vote? No, this is reprehensible behavior. Republicans who won’t wear a mask should be ashamed for wielding the mask exemption as a political weapon.”
One Democratic alternate lead clerk felt harassed by the Republican lead clerk for wearing a mask. She also felt the Republicans at her polling location were trying to push the Democrats out of working the polls. Despite the closure of the other polling location due to COVID-19, Republicans still refused to wear masks or move the voting equipment to provide adequate social distancing to ensure safety. Out of complete frustration, the Democratic lead clerk transferred to another polling location.
DCDP Chair Dr. Angie Cadena said, “Being a citizen in a democracy carries the responsibility of looking out for one another, even if we don’t agree with their political stances. During this devastating pandemic, the DCDP believes all poll workers should protect the health and safety of everyone in our community by simply wearing a mask.”