36.6 F
Wichita
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Buy now

ACLU of Kansas Files Complaint For Ellis County Election Worker Over Lack of Mask Mandate

By Sherman Smith – Kansas Reflector

TOPEKA — The American Civil Liberties Union of Kansas is seeking an investigation into the refusal of the Ellis County clerk and Kansas Secretary of State to require election workers to wear a facemask.

The ACLU filed a complaint with the Kansas Department of Labor on behalf of an Ellis County election worker who has a heart transplant and fears for safety. The complaint says employees and volunteers are required to work within close proximity to each other and voters in closed spaces for extended periods of time.

Ellis County Clerk Deborah Maskus and the Kansas Secretary of State’s office failed to protect the health and safety of workers by not requiring them to wear masks, the ACLU contends.

“I am at risk for serious harm every time I enter a polling location or the clerk’s office,” the unnamed employee said in the complaint, which was filed Thursday.

The complaint includes photos of clerk’s office employees not wearing a mask, and it references other photos published by the Hays Post. A voter also contacted the ACLU with concerns about being placed at risk for COVID-19 because workers weren’t wearing a mask, the complaint said.

COVID-19 cases have spiked in Ellis County, with nearly all of the 1,416 total cases recorded since early August. The county’s health department reported its rolling seven-day average is nine new cases per day. The county, with a population of about 28,500, has recorded 18 deaths from COVID-19.

The highly contagious virus is spread through airborne droplets from talking, coughing and sneezing, or contact with a contaminated surface. For survivors, the virus can cause long-lasting damage to multiple organ systems. Those with underlying health conditions are considered to be especially vulnerable.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends protective face coverings in public settings, especially when individuals cannot maintain six feet of separation. The City of Hays adopted the mask mandate recommended by Gov. Laura Kelly in early July.

“Masks are an integral part of any employer’s workplace safety program during the pandemic and an essential protection against the hazards that COVID-19 presents,” the ACLU argues in its complaint.

Katie Koupal, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s office, said election officials work with their local health department to determine COVID-19 protocols for their respective counties. The county clerk oversees elections in all but the four largest counties in Kansas.

“Our office strongly encourages all Kansans to be safe and follow the recommended COVID-19 safety protocols of health professionals,” Koupal said.

The Secretary of State’s office has provided personal protective equipment and plexiglass shields to help protect voters and election workers from COVID-19, Koupal said.

Lauren Fitzgerald, spokeswoman for the governor, said the labor department is still reviewing the complaint.

“This is exactly why Gov. Kelly has urged counties to adopt her mask requirement,” Fitzgerald said. “We want to ensure all Kansans are safe when they go to the polls.”

Related Articles

Letter From Marysville USD 364 Superintendent Mike Couch – 10/16/2020

Well, I am not sure if many parents were able to get any “back to school” pictures this morning as we had our First...

Washington County Government Offices To Be Locked Starting Tuesday

WASHINGTON, KAN. - Effective 12:01 a.m. on November 17, 2020, all doors to the Washington County Courthouse and all other County Offices and buildings...

First COVID-19 Deaths Reported In Pottawatomie County

Pottawatomie County, Kansas – On Monday, November 16, 2020, Pottawatomie County Health Department announced the first and possibly second COVID-19 related deaths for Pottawatomie...

Stay Connected

21,134FansLike
2,463FollowersFollow
0SubscribersSubscribe
- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

Letter From Marysville USD 364 Superintendent Mike Couch – 10/16/2020

Well, I am not sure if many parents were able to get any “back to school” pictures this morning as we had our First...

Washington County Government Offices To Be Locked Starting Tuesday

WASHINGTON, KAN. - Effective 12:01 a.m. on November 17, 2020, all doors to the Washington County Courthouse and all other County Offices and buildings...

First COVID-19 Deaths Reported In Pottawatomie County

Pottawatomie County, Kansas – On Monday, November 16, 2020, Pottawatomie County Health Department announced the first and possibly second COVID-19 related deaths for Pottawatomie...

Ellsworth Correctional Facility Reports 3rd Resident Death; 10th KDOC Death Overall

TOPEKA, Kansas – An Ellsworth Correctional Facility (ECF) resident who died Sunday, November15 had tested positive for COVID-19. This is third resident death from...

Lakeside Junior High Students To Move To Remote Learning Following COVID-19 Exposure

Waconda School District, after communicating with the Osborne County Health Department, has determined that there has been a new positive Covid-19 exposure within the...