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Dublin to designate separate polling area for in-person voting sans masks

  • The Town of Dublin. July 7, 2020 Staff photo by Abbe Hamilton

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/25/2020 4:46:00 PM

Dublin’s Town Moderator Tim Clark is finalizing the town’s COVID-19 voting protocol in advance of the Sept. 8 primary election after reviewing new state guidance last week, which clarified that it’s up to a town’s moderator to decide whether to require masks at the polls.

Nobody would be turned away from voting in-person at Town Hall, Clark said, but voters without face coverings will need to vote in an alternate location in order to protect poll workers. An alternate voting site could be outside polling place under a tent, or a room in the basement of the building, Clark said. “We’ve discussed all sorts of alternative ways,” he said, and began discussing procedure for any contingency with the Select Board last Tuesday: bad weather, too many people in line, or voters refusing to comply with COVID-19 prevention protocol.

If too many people show up at once, Clark said he intends to distribute numbers to voters so they can wait in their cars until a spot is available for them in the polls. In case of bad weather, he said he’d consider having voters refusing to wear masks fill out ballots in their cars.

“Tim has thought this through,” Supervisor of the Checklist chair Judy Knapp said. “I think we’re in good shape.” The town started collecting personal protective equipment in May, long before they knew whether they’d receive any assistance from the state for elections, she said. “We’re not a young town,” Knapp said, and she was worried about potentially exposing vulnerable volunteers during this fall’s two elections, particularly since poll workers usually work six hour shifts – a long stretch of time to spend in an enclosed space, she said. Fortunately, enough residents have volunteered that poll workers will only have to work three hours at a stretch, with volunteers dedicated to disinfect booths after each use and distribute hand santitizer. A Select Board member offered to construct sneeze guards for the polling place if needed, Knapp said. “I have to say that the people in town have been so good,” she said.

As of last Tuesday’s Select Board meeting, 157 of the town’s 1200 registered voters had requested absentee ballots. Select Board Chair Walter Snitko expressed disappointment that the state hasn’t done more to advertise the fact that anybody can vote absentee this year. “The disregard for the poll workers is appalling, in my opinion,” he said, adding that Dublin itself had done a good job spreading the word about voting alternatives.

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

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