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Ask us: Will masks be required in Rowan County polling locations?

Editor’s note: Ask Us is a weekly feature published online Mondays and in print on Tuesdays. We’ll seek to answer your questions about items or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Email it to askus@salisburypost.com.

The Rowan County Board of Elections says it cannot require a voter to wear a mask in polling locations during early voting or on Election Day.

That statement comes in response to reader questions about mask-wearing policies in this year’s general election, including whether someone must wear a mask when voting, if law enforcement will be on hand to ensure compliance and other COVID-19 election preparations.

Board of Elections Director Brenda McCubbins said poll workers will have masks available for voters who want them, but she added, “we cannot require a voters to wear a mask; it’s the voter’s choice, and they will have the option to wear one or not.”

McCubbins said police officers and/or sheriff’s deputies would not be at polling locations to enforce mask-wearing rules.

Poll workers, though will wear masks and be stationed behind plexiglass shields at tables for check-in and receiving a ballot. Workers who are engaging with voters, including those handling curbside voting, will also wear masks, McCubbins said. She expects curbside voting to be more popular this year than prior years.

As another COVID-19 election precaution, McCubbins said each polling location will have an average of two extra poll workers. One will sanitize polling booths after voters use them. Another will work to ensure lines outside of polling locations are following social distancing guidelines.

McCubbins said the check-in table at polling locations would be stationed closer to the entrance than usual to ensure there’s not a line of people waiting inside. Voting booths will also be fewer and farther between. That means fewer people inside of a polling location at once, McCubbins said.

The Rowan County Board of Elections is also planning to make one pen available for each voter to use. While there are roughly 93,000 voters registered in Rowan County, McCubbins said the Board of Elections is ordering supplies like pens based on an expected percentage of people who will vote.

Securing enough poll workers had been a concern, but McCubbins says the Rowan County Board of Elections should be OK and that it has received “a great amount” of interest forms. Staff members, she said, are in the process of contacting people who have filled out interest forms.

Early voting in Rowan County begins Oct. 15 at 8:0 a.m. and will be every day until Oct. 31. For the first time this year, there will be early voting on Sunday.

On weekdays, early voting will be 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday voting will be 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday voting on Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 will be 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

During the early period, voters can cast a ballot at any location. People must cast a ballot at their voting precinct on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Early voting location are as follows:

• Rowan County Board of Elections, 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. West in Salisbury

• Cleveland Town Hall, 302 East Main Street in Cleveland

• Spencer Municipal Building, 600 S. Salisbury Ave. in Spencer

• South Rowan Public Library, 920 Kimball Road in China Grove

• Rockwell American Legion Building, 8580 U.S. 52 in Rockwell.

For questions about voting or for more information, visit rowancountync.gov/Elections or call the Board of Elections at 704-216-8140.

Voters can check their registration status and see their polling location by visiting ncsbe.gov/registering/checking-your-registration.

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