Voters who go to polling places for the June 2 primary election will have to wear face masks.
During Thursday afternoon’s Bucks County Board of Elections meeting, members said Dr. David Damsker, the county health director, will sign a public health order under the emergency code to require voters, poll workers, and anyone in the polling place to wear a face mask and keep socially distant when possible.
Board of Elections members – Bucks County Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia, Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo, and county Judge Brian McGuffin – voted in favor of a motion to support the order Damsker is expected to sign.
Stuart Wilder, the solicitor for the Board of Elections, told members that it was his belief that the health director and not the committee could enact a measure to require voters to wear masks.
Ellis-Marseglia believed the Board of Elections had the authority to issue the requirement, but went along with the motion of support for Damsker’s planned order.
DiGirolamo asked about enforcement of the order, which was met with information from Wilder that people will not be stopped from casting their vote, but efforts are underway to make sure everybody can vote in person if they wish to do that.
“Everyone gets to vote,” Wilder said.
McGuffin said he would like to think the county would make “reasonable accommodations” for those who can’t wear masks for medical or philosophical reasons.
Ellis-Marseglia said one accommodation could be to allow those with medical issues that don’t allow them to wear a mask to vote with social distancing in place.
“We will make sure there is something there if they don’t have a face covering,” Ellis-Marseglia said of those who may have forgotten bring a mask.
McGuffin said the county has an obligation to poll workers to keep them safe.
Those with philosophical objections about wearing a mask for the polling place could always apply for a mail-in ballot by 5 p.m. by May 25, McGuffin said.
Mail-in ballots have to be in the possession of county election officials by 8 p.m. on election day.
The Board of Elections voted to move a polling place from a church to a fire station in Springfield Township and from a retirement community to a high school in Warminster.
Thomas Freitag, the board of elections director, said the department was informed this week that the Falls Township Senior Center will not be able to used as a polling place. The county will look for a new polling site, and the Board of Elections expects to meet by next week to decide on a new location.
The county has no plans to consolidate more polling places.
The Board of Elections voted to increase pay for judges of election from $135 to $200, other elections officials from $105 to $195, and from $105 to $195 for constables. The pay increase will only be in effect for the primary election.
Officials said the pay increase is to encourage poll workers to come out and also thank those who do.
Notarization requirements for certain campaign filings have been waived, but affirming signatures under penalty of law are still required. The documents can now be faxed or emailed instead of mailed.
Officials also said the capacity to county mail-in ballots has been increased.