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Voters turned away for not wearing masks in Charlotte County, write governor

Voters we spoke to say they were turned away from an official early voting location in Charlotte County for not wearing masks and were given an alternative neither were happy with. They’ve already contacted the governor’s office.

Scott Boone calls his encounter outside an Englewood polling station a voting violation.

“I said I’m not going to wear a mask; I am going inside to vote,” Boone said. “And they said, ‘No, you are not.’”

Brandon Shifflett said he was exercising his right to not wear a mask at a Port Charlotte early voting site when deputies and the supervisor of elections asked him to leave.

“If there is not a mandate, there’s no law that places it. Then, people have the right to choose,” Shifflett said. “I believe it’s against my right to force me to do so.”

Voters must wear a mask or face shield while casting their vote in person in Charlotte County. But there are other options for people with medical conditions. Voters can mail or drop off a ballot or fill one out at the outdoor privacy booth. A poll worker will videotape the journey a voter’s ballot takes to a ballot drop box.

“It was on a phone of someone carrying a ballot and putting it in a machine,” Carl Butterworth said. “Could we tell it was ours? We could not.”

“I want to do it physically to make sure that my ballot is getting into a secure location,” Boone said.

There are no state or countywide mask mandates for voters going to vote in person. But the Charlotte County Supervisor of Elections said he promised all poll workers the county would follow CDC guidelines for their protection and said the alternative voting options are reasonable accommodations for voters with disabilities.

But the voters we spoke to don’t want their faces covered and demand to have their voices heard.

“Every person should get out and vote,” Shifflett said.

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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