County Says It’s Providing a ‘Safe Voting Experience’ for General Election
Comal County made it clear today that it stands behind Elections Coordinator Cynthia Jaqua, who refuses to wear a mask during training for volunteer poll workers and does not practice safe social distancing.
Comal County Clerk Bobbie Koepp said her office is focused on providing a safe voting experience for both poll workers and voters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Early voting for the November 2020 General Election kicks off on Oct. 13. Election Day is Nov. 3.
“We’ve taken every safety measure to protect both the voter and the poll workers,” she said. “The Comal County Elections Center is committed to providing a healthy environment for our community.”
County Judge Sherman Krause said providing for elections is one of the most-important functions of government.
“When exercising your right to vote, we want residents of Comal County to know all precautions have been taken to ensure your safety.”
Elections Coordinator Refuses to Wear Mask
Jaqua came under fire from volunteer poll workers last week who said she refuses to wear a mask and does not stay ‘socially distanced’ while conducting hands-on training sessions for election judges and clerks.
Several of those who complained also said Jaqua canceled their training after learning they criticized her COVID-19 safety protocol on social media.
Jaqua, speaking through county Public Information Officer Cary Zayas, denied receiving any complaints about the way she conducts training for poll workers and also said no training sessions were canceled.
County’s Safety Measures
In a statement, the county outlined proactive measures it implemented “with the public’s well-being in mind.” They do not include wearing a mask.
- Proper social distancing
- Safely spaced voting machines
- Plexiglas at voting check-in locations and anywhere there is face-to-face contact
- Sanitizing all voting machines and equipment after every use
- Providing hand sanitizer to the public
- Daily screening of poll workers for COVID-19 symptoms
- Additional voting locations
- Additional week of early voting
Koepp said the county follows Gov. Gregg Abbott’s Executive Order 29, which mandates masks inside any building or space open to the public but exempts anyone voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher or actively administering an election.
Democratic Party Chair Fears for Election Workers
Comal County Democratic Party Chair Gloria Meehan called foul on Koepp’s statement, saying she fears for the health of election workers.
“This election season is like no other because the coronavirus pandemic continues to plague our country,” she said. “We’d seen numbers rise to an alarming level, then drop somewhat, and now are on the rise again. This novel virus has no vaccine and cannot be carelessly disregarded as if it’s somehow over. It’s not.
“Although the Comal County Elections Office says that all health precautions will be followed to ensure our safety, actions speak louder than words,” she said. “The Elections Office talks about health-and-safety protocols yet refuses to implement the same safety protocols during regular office hours and while training judges and clerks for the elections, potentially exposing our citizens to the corona virus. This does not set a good example of health safety and what to expect when voting in Comal County.”