Voters Can't Be Barred From Polling Place For Not Following COVID-19 Safety Guidelines

Jun 1, 2020

Hoosiers who vote in person for this year’s primary election will not be required to wear masks, use gloves, or observe critical social distancing guidelines.
Credit Lauren Chapman / IPB News

Hoosiers who vote in person for this year’s primary election will not be required to wear masks, use gloves, or observe critical social distancing guidelines.

The Indiana Election Division sent guidance to county election officials on polling place safety issues.

The state’s guidance says county election offices should ensure poll workers are washing their hands frequently and regularly sanitizing surfaces. It also says they should wear masks and observe, whenever possible, the six-foot social distancing guidelines. And it recommends the use of gloves.

The state has been working with the Indiana National Guard to deliver PPE to counties for weeks.

READ MORE: Hoosiers Must Return Absentee Ballots By Noon On Election Day

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana 2020 Two-Way. Text "elections" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on COVID-19 and the 2020 election.

But the guidance also clearly states that poll workers – and counties – cannot require voters themselves to follow any of those safety procedures. State election officials say to turn away voters for not wearing a mask, for instance, would violate the constitutional right to vote.

There is, however, a prohibition against a certain type of face mask or covering – voters cannot use them to express support or disapproval of a candidate, a political party or a public question.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.