Canyon County polls not requiring masks

Two Canyon County precincts get new polling locations
Posted at 7:00 PM, Oct 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-23 10:04:39-04

CANYON COUNTY — Voting will look different this year, or will it?

Idaho News 6 is told some people see the same old faces at their polling places, which could be a problem.

Recently Idaho News 6 received tips from multiple sources claiming polling places in Canyon County do not adhere to the CDC guidelines about wearing masks and social distancing. We called around to find out what the rules are for workers and voters and who decided.

This problem was reported to the Election Protection hotline, which shares data with ProPublica's Electionland project, which was then sent to Idaho News 6. One email stating, "no one was wearing masks — not even the poll workers."

Another tip said, "I had to make five different requests during the process to maintain safe distancing from unmasked workers."

Tip from viewer

Chief Deputy Secretary of State Chad Houck said it's up to each county's jurisdiction on whether masks are enforced at polling locations since they each run their elections. Ada County has a required mask mandate that also applies to the county's election. Canyon County does not currently have a mandate.

"At this point, there's nowhere in Canyon County that I'm aware of (that has a mandate). I know the county commissioners haven't issued a mask mandate. I don't believe any of the city mayors have issued a mask mandate and our elections office is encouraging poll workers and voters to wear masks, but they are not requiring poll workers and voters to wear masks," Canyon County Public Information Officer Joe Decker said.

Decker also said there was a divide between masks and no masks among poll workers, and they feared if they are mandated, poll workers won't work.

"I'm not sure we'd be able to open five early voting locations nor 21 polling locations on Election Day," Decker said.

Although masks are not mandated, Decker said each polling location will have PPE for voters to use. If voters feel unsafe, Canyon County also has a curbside ballot pickup option at each early voting location and all election day locations.

Idaho News 6 also reached out to Southwest District Health about this and what they recommend for voters or poll workers, but did not hear back.

If you live in Canyon County and feel unsafe, know October 23rd is your last chance to request an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3rd election.