Indiana clerk refuses to wear face mask while administering polls

A county clerk in rural Indiana says she will not wear a mask while overseeing early voting despite the county’s surge of coronavirus cases and warnings from a state official.

Posted: Oct 20, 2020 11:21 AM

COVINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A county clerk in rural Indiana says she will not wear a mask while overseeing early voting despite the county’s surge of coronavirus cases and warnings from a state official.

Fountain County Clerk Paula Copenhaver said she will “not be part of the government overreach” and contends social distancing and hand sanitizer are enough.

Valerie Warycha, spokeswoman for the secretary of state, confirmed Friday that Connie Lawson contacted Copenhaver to ask her to wear a mask.

Lawson also wrote in an email on Friday to clerks and election officials in all 92 Indiana counties that if poll workers refuse to wear masks or other protection, clerks should thank them for their service “and ask that they voluntarily resign.”

Lawson did not mention any clerks or counties by name in her email, and she did not issue any mandates. State elected officials do not have the authority to do that, Warycha said.

Lawson said the election is “the time to be careful, not cavalier,” and that clerks needed to put public health before personal preference, the Journal & Courier reported.

“As election officials, we have a duty to each and every voter. We cannot force voters to comply with mask protocol, but we can ensure that all poll workers set a good example,” she said.

Lawson put the possibility of COVID-19 clusters at polling places squarely on the head of county clerks who are choosing not to follow Gov. Eric Holcomb’s mask order.

“There is great risk in allowing poll workers to flaunt health recommendations,” Lawson wrote. “If an outbreak occurs and contact tracing leads back to a county polling location where the clerk did not require the use of PPE, that will quickly become a major issue. In that scenario, the responsibility falls on you and your county – not the state.”

Lawson did not offer options for voters who felt unsafe going into a polling place where poll workers weren’t wearing masks, but Warycha said that voters who are concerned “should contact their clerk and devise a plan that will allow them to vote in a socially distanced manner from a clerk who will not wear a mask.”

Warycha did not indicate which counties are not following mask rules.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 306538

Reported Deaths: 5435
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion41953849
Lake26872453
Allen17621295
Elkhart16905219
St. Joseph16524223
Hamilton12696167
Vanderburgh9552115
Tippecanoe844927
Porter813785
Johnson6231165
Vigo597979
Hendricks5944156
Monroe530349
Clark504077
Madison4858121
Delaware4820103
LaPorte457194
Kosciusko455739
Howard334975
Warrick319572
Floyd311477
Bartholomew308462
Wayne301367
Cass295831
Marshall293744
Grant262949
Noble249846
Hancock246551
Boone240254
Henry240237
Dubois234631
Dearborn215730
Jackson212633
Morgan204443
Gibson181725
Knox181419
Shelby178254
Clinton177821
Lawrence174047
DeKalb172829
Adams166422
Wabash158020
Miami157814
Daviess154643
Fayette147733
Steuben143513
Jasper142111
Harrison141824
LaGrange140129
Montgomery139027
Whitley133412
Ripley128114
Decatur124643
Huntington123510
Putnam123027
Randolph120719
Wells120428
White120321
Clay119822
Posey119616
Jefferson116216
Scott103219
Greene101353
Jay96413
Starke90621
Sullivan88916
Fulton83518
Jennings83214
Spencer8198
Perry81521
Fountain7738
Washington7417
Franklin68626
Carroll67913
Orange66628
Vermillion5993
Owen5987
Parke5606
Newton55312
Tipton55226
Rush5317
Blackford51912
Pike50318
Pulaski37710
Martin3515
Benton3362
Brown3353
Crawford2881
Union2671
Switzerland2555
Warren2382
Ohio2307
Unassigned0266

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 371840

Reported Deaths: 6100
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin50231667
Cuyahoga36047741
Hamilton29931372
Montgomery20065228
Butler14769146
Lucas14317414
Summit13388316
Stark8792197
Warren819175
Mahoning7276299
Lake682666
Lorain643499
Clermont577248
Delaware556436
Licking549276
Fairfield538464
Trumbull5305147
Greene522364
Clark511464
Allen465485
Marion465251
Wood4491107
Medina447756
Miami425867
Pickaway399348
Columbiana347297
Portage344872
Tuscarawas328658
Wayne318793
Richland316638
Mercer289945
Hancock241337
Ross240759
Muskingum240210
Auglaize231031
Putnam224749
Erie224266
Darke223559
Ashtabula223253
Geauga203351
Scioto195915
Union19118
Shelby190615
Lawrence189438
Athens18864
Seneca180018
Belmont164929
Madison158918
Sandusky154229
Preble152621
Huron152318
Defiance139522
Holmes139139
Logan127816
Knox126318
Fulton124525
Washington121927
Crawford121516
Ottawa121130
Clinton106714
Williams10579
Ashland105222
Highland101317
Jefferson10124
Henry100023
Brown9925
Champaign9475
Jackson93112
Hardin91019
Fayette90317
Van Wert8976
Morrow8882
Guernsey83914
Coshocton82613
Perry78712
Adams78313
Pike7451
Gallia73513
Wyandot71216
Paulding64611
Hocking62616
Noble60223
Carroll45710
Meigs39012
Monroe31821
Morgan2575
Vinton2195
Harrison2023
Unassigned00
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