Leominster furniture manufacturer AIS plans to donate enough face masks to protect every Massachusetts poll worker who needs one on Nov. 3.
The company said Tuesday that it is working with state and local officials to make sure the masks are delivered ahead of Election Day. Already, more than 235 city and town clerks have requested mask donations from AIS, with some asking for as few as 10 and others seeking up to 1,500.
“AIS’s generous donation of masks to each community who chooses to participate ensures that poll workers, volunteers and voters will be safe during this election season,” Nancy Talbot, Ware’s clerk and president of the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association, said in a statement.
The effort got started after Leominster City Clerk Katelyn Huffman appealed to AIS, saying fiscal challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have made it difficult to get enough equipment to protect people from the virus.
Chief executive Bruce Platzman said AIS expects to deliver more than 22,000 face masks to city and town clerks for use by municipal employees, poll workers, and volunteers. The first shipments left the company’s Leominster headquarters last week.
AIS, which makes commercial office furniture and seating products, began making masks in April when the pandemic gripped the nation. In May, it established a national Sew the Masks initiative. So far, the company and its corporate sponsor partners have donated and distributed nearly 150,000 masks nationwide.
“Our democracy relies on the ability of all citizens to be able to freely and safely cast their votes in person on Election Day,” Platzman said. “These dedicated poll workers in each municipality ― many of whom have served their communities for years ― are in every way the frontline essential personnel that make the democratic process function."
Mail-in voting and an early voting period that begins Oct. 17 are expected to help alleviate crowds at polling places on Nov. 3, but in-person voting is still likely to be brisk at some polling places.
AIS said that it coordinated its efforts with Secretary of State William F. Galvin, who oversees elections, and began working with municipal clerks Sept. 30 to arrange deliveries of donated masks.