Could outbreaks in county clerk’s offices hamper November election?

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By Cole Lauterbach | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Green County Clerk Debbie Banghart’s entire staff was sent home. 

The county health department ordered a two-week quarantine for all of them after learning one of her employees had contracted COVID-19. 

“We still have a lot of preparation to do for this election and, right now, I’m not even allowed to step foot in my office,” she said. “At night. After hours or anything.” 

On a call with Illinois Congressman Rodney Davis, Banghart asked fellow clerks and elections officials about a potential nightmare scenario this fall. 

“What happens if all of my employees are quarantined at home? If the health department closes our entire office down, how are we going to do early voting or anything for that matter?” 

Davis said the issue is a real threat to the November General Election.

“Imagine, you’ve got 9,000 registered voters in Green County. Some of our counties have hundreds of thousands,” he said. 

More than two dozen employees of Cook County Clerk Karen Yarborough’s office have contracted COVID-19 since March, according to reports from her office and the Chicago Sun-Times.

Other county clerks are already warning that there may be some delay in results. Other states with robust vote-by-mail programs often don’t have close races settled for days after polls close.

There is no clear rule on how a federal election could be delayed, according to a Congressional Research Service report. Congress, they said, could possibly pass legislation changing the date of the election. Hurricanes have brought about the question of whether an election could be delayed. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy threatened the East Coast just days before election day. 

The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, delayed a local election in New York City. 

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