St. Charles Co. Poll Workers told to ‘act surprised’ they aren’t wearing a face mask


ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – A St. Charles County election judge said they were shocked to read an email about updated face masks sent from the county’s election authority Wednesday morning.

St. Charles County Director of Elections Kurt Bahr said he wished the email from his office would have used different wording to get their message across.

“For this November election, while still not having a full mandate, we are requiring election judges on or near their person so that they can quickly put a mask on if a voter asks them to do so,” said Bahr.

The election judge told Fox 2/News 11 that they were shocked to read the bullet point number 2 in the email, which stated that election judges and supervisors “may act surprised” if a voter says something to them about “not wearing a face mask or not wearing it correctly.” They are then instructed to wear the face mask until the voter leaves the polling place and are asked to do this each time a voter comment on the poll workers not wearing a mask.

“Looking back at it, we would have chosen a word other than surprise, because some people have taken that to connotate deception to voters, which was not the intent of the email or of that, it was really to ‘force out’ any debate or discussion between judges and voters on mask-wearing,” said Bahr.

Masks are highly encouraged for voters and election judges, but not required in St. Charles County. Bahr said rules are not as lenient as they have been in the past.

In St. Louis City, Gary Stoff, Republican Director of Elections, said election judges and voters in the city are both required to wear face masks at the polling locations.

“This is a very strange time and it’s a dangerous time with the coronavirus, so the city requires it, we’re requiring it and it’s an easy thing to do.”

St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County all said they are taking precautions including providing hand sanitizer and honoring social distancing guidelines to keep voters safe while they vote in-person

“All of our poll workers will have masks, that’s required, they’ll have access to gloves if they want them although they don’t have to use the gloves, we’ll have hand sanitizers both for the workers and for voters when they come in the door we can offer them hand sanitizer when they exit we can offer them hand sanitizer, we’ll have plexiglass shields to provide distance between voter and poll worker, we’ll have individual styluses for the voters to use when they check in on the poll pad,” Stoff said. “We’ll have individual Q tips for voters who want to use the touch screen, we’ll be wiping down equipment and surfaces frequently and we will be observing social distancing.”

St. Louis County poll workers are requiring poll workers to wear both a mask and gloves on election day.

“We are trying to do everything we can to make sure the polling places are as clean as possible,” said Rick Stream, St. Louis County Republican Election Director.

The email sent to election judges on the updated face mask guidelines said:

“To: ALL Election Judges and Supervisors,

Due to the numerous complaints St. Charles County received about election judges and supervisors not wearing face masks, we have updated the rules for wearing face masks at the polling place.

1. No Voter can be forced to wear a face mask. We will have extra face masks on hand if a voter wants one.

2. Judges and Supervisors, you must keep a face mask near you (on your ear or on a lanyard) but when a voter says something to you about not wearing a face mask or not wearing it correctly. Please put it on properly. You may act surprised that you don’t have a face mask on properly and then apologize as you put the mask on. Wear your mask correctly until the voter leaves the polling place. Please do this every time a voter says something to you.

3. This change nothing for those of you who are refusing to work if everyone isn’t being forced to wear a face mask all day long.

4. We realize that some of you can’t for medical or personal reasons wear a face mask at all. If this new rule is not going to work for you, please change your availability to not available. We do understand and we hope you understand why we had to change the rules.

Thank you,”

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