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By Jay Mullen

The Village Municipal Center will be the sole location for the upcoming Granville village election on Tuesday, Sept. 15 and voters will be required to wear a mask.

After the board passed the motion to have the Municipal Center be the only polling location and set the polling hours, the topic of masks engendered much discussion.

The item stated that “admittance to the polling location be restricted” to those who show up without a mask to cast their vote, according to Mayor Paul Labas.

Trustee Stephanie Munger said she didn’t feel comfortable about that.

“Are we saying that we are going to deny them the right to vote then? Or are we going to issue them facemasks when they get here if they don’t have them? she asked.

Labas responded by saying that they have filled out an application to receive facemasks for those who do not have one. He believes that there will be masks and hand sanitizer available at the time of the election.

Granville Mayor Paul Labas

“But they are going to be required to wear masks in the building,” he said.

Trustee Dean Hyatt said he hopes that everyone is taking the proper precautions during these times.

“I hope by now everybody has a facemask,” he said.

After a pause Munger said that she was uncomfortable with the idea of turning someone away because of a lack of face covering. She said they would be taking away a person’s right to vote if they had a pre-existing medical condition and were unable to wear a face covering.

“If they have a medical reason and they choose to come in here to vote in-person that is certainly their right,” she said. “We can’t deny them.”

According to the executive order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on April 15, “any individual who is over age two and able to medically tolerate a face-covering shall be required to cover their nose and mouth with a mask or cloth face-covering when in a public place and unable to maintain, or when not maintaining, social distance.”

In a document released on May 15 outlining questions and answers about elections and COVID-19 the state Board of Elections said that everyone who attends an election should be required to wear a mask, citing the same executive order.

But it also says that officials should be prepared for anything.

The document states, “the State Board recommends that County Board of Elections plan for each poll site to have an isolated, separate area in which poll workers may assist a voter that is unable to wear a mask. Poll workers would be supplied with and wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to assist such voters.”

Munger continued to say that the board does not have the right to deny a person’s right to vote, even if they aren’t wearing a facemask.

“I’m not going to deny them the right to vote,” Labas responded. “I can deny them the entrance into this building without a mask.”

After the discussion the board voted to go ahead with the item. Labas said that this can all be “null and void in three days” if Gov. Cuomo decides to cancel the election.

As of this point the election is set to take place on Tuesday, Sept. 15 between the hours of 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.

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