As part of the County’s poll consolidation plan they announced the following:
All poll workers will be required to wear masks and gloves provided by the county and the state. Face shields will be given to workers who directly interact with the public. Additionally, a county employee will be present at each polling location to monitor social distancing guidelines and answer any questions.
The Judge of Election is responsible for running the polling place. The polling place is supposed to be above reproach in terms of making sure the election is fair and corruption free, with the Judge charged to enforce that condition. There are constables outside the polling place to assist the judge as needed or if there is a disturbance the police can be called. The constable does not enter the polling place in an official capacity, except on request of the Judge.
The polling place is run by the Judge, with the poll workers reporting to him/her. Other than the voters voting, the only other persons allowed in the polling place are poll watchers with certificates issued by the court. This allows for a free and untainted election, to the best of the communities ability. Now the County is placing an employee in the polling place to oversee the voters and monitor safe distancing. This has two effects: it diminishes the authority of the Judge as we now have someone else authorized to make changes in the polling place, and it inserts the County governmental authority to dictate what happens in the polls in a direct manner. This will intimidate a lot of voters, even if that is not the intention, and should not be allowed.
Our judiciary has a reliance on previous decisions and traditions, often overriding the law as actually written. The power of precedence is strong and when the County government manages to place its employees in the polling place to enforce order now (social distancing) that establishes a historical precedent. You can expect that the same logic will be used in the future with possibly even more negative consequences to the idea of a free election.
It is troublesome that the County feels the need to “mother” citizens while voting. Given the dubious legal authority under which the state lock-down has operated, County employees should not be permitted in the polling place. County employees need to be kept outside the polling place and only be allowed to enter on request of the Judge of Election.