Denton County

Two Poll Workers Walk When Co-Worker Declines to Wear Mask

Denton County couple leaves their post at polling place after they say the lead poll worker opted to not wear a face mask.

NBC 5 News

Rick and Jan Jacobson have been working the polls at the Lantana Community Center in Denton County. On Tuesday, the couple walked off the job because of what they said the lead poll worker was not doing.

"He did not wear a mask," Rick Jacobsen said. "When I asked him to, he said he did not have to and would not."

Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) order about face masks has exemptions that include voters and people working at the polls, though the order said masks are still encouraged there.

"So there's nothing that Denton County, or any other county in Texas, can do to require the wearing of a mask, of the poll workers or voters," Denton County Judge Andy Eads said.

"I thought it was important to have people there so everybody can vote," Jacobsen said, explaining why he signed up to work at the polls. "But I wasn't willing to risk our health when someone doesn't want to wear a mask and expose us."

The Jacobsens said most voters and poll workers they've encountered in their previous days working were wearing a face covering.

"People are very scared," Jan Jacobsen said. "I'm trying to make them feel as safe as possible so they can come in and vote."

Last week, a polling place in Lewisville closed for the day after a poll worker tested positive for COVID-19.

"We did take quick and decisive action to close that polling place," Eads said. "We did contact tracing and the fellow poll workers aren't going to be working at the polls because they'll be in isolation."

Eads himself is recovering from COVID-19.

"The symptoms kind of come and go," Eads said. "But for the most part, I'm doing really good."

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