LEOMINSTER, Mass., Oct. 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- AIS, a leading national manufacturer of commercial office furniture and seating, announced today that the company will provide a high-quality facemask to every Massachusetts poll worker that needs one for use on Election Day – ensuring that thousands of election workers in 351 cities and towns will be protected.
The company is working directly with Secretary of State William F. Galvin's office and city and town clerks to ensure that the donated masks are delivered to municipalities and distributed to poll workers well in advance of the Presidential Election on Tuesday, November 3. As of Monday, October 5 more than 200 city and town clerks across the Commonwealth had requested mask donations from AIS in quantities ranging from 10 to 1,500. Over three million voters are expected to cast ballots in person around Massachusetts.
"Our democracy relies on the ability of all citizens to be able to freely and safely cast their votes in person on Election Day," said Bruce Platzman, CEO of AIS. "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."
Platzman said AIS expects to deliver more than 20,000 facemasks to city and town clerks for use by municipal employees, poll workers and Election Day volunteers. Those shipments began going out from the company's Leominster headquarters last week.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made high-quality protective masks and other personal protective equipment a necessity to keep poll workers and the public safe during in-person voting.
"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," said Nancy Talbot, Clerk for the Town of Ware and President of the Massachusetts Town Clerk's Association. "We are so thankful that AIS stepped forward to be of help when so many communities are strapped financially."
AIS began making high-quality facemasks – using antimicrobial fabrics and other premium materials – when the COVID-19 pandemic intensified in April. Then in May, the company established the nationwide Sew the Masks initiative – activating internal production lines and close to 1,000 volunteer 'Rosies' in 45 states to create masks at their home sewing machines for donation and distribution to first responders, frontline workers and other people in need. To date, AIS and its corporate sponsor partners have donated and distributed almost 150,000 facemasks to people across the United States.
Through coordination with the Secretary of State's office, AIS began working with city and town clerks on September 30 to arrange for delivery of Election Day mask supplies. Within 48 hours nearly 200 municipalities had already signed up for the free mask deliveries -with dozens more making requests by Monday, October 5. AIS will also provide a small quantity of disposable masks to each community for voters who arrive without a mask on Election Day.
The effort was first initiated following an appeal to AIS from Leominster City Clerk Katelyn Huffman, who noted that financial hardships the city has experienced as a result of COVID-19 made the acquisition of adequate PPE especially difficult.
"Due to the limitations of our budget, and the rules and restraints for new monetary acquisitions, we … have been struggling to find ways to acquire the equipment in a timely manner," Huffman said in an August 27 letter to AIS CEO Bruce Platzman.
Recruiting and retaining poll workers is especially challenging for the 2020 Presidential Election as the COVID-19 pandemic creates significant public health and safety concerns. In 2017, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) reported that nearly 60 percent of poll workers nationwide are at least 61 years of age—and roughly one-quarter of all poll workers are 71 years or older.
"We saw an opportunity to support cities and towns in Massachusetts on Election Day, at a time when that support is badly needed, by leveraging our inventory of masks and our distribution capacity," said Platzman. "Perhaps companies and organizations with similar capacity in other states will follow suit to help ensure that Americans feel safe coming out to vote on November 3."
AIS, headquartered in Leominster, Massachusetts, is a leading manufacturer of commercial office furniture and boasts one of the most impressive stories of growth and success in the furniture industry. Founded in 1989, the company is known for offering market-relevant, feature-rich product lines that entice designers and support the diverse needs of end-users while offering exceptional value. AIS is an innovator that leads the industry in sustainable, lean manufacturing, lead-time performance and manufacturing flexibility. The Boston Business Journal has twice recognized AIS – in 2019 and 2020 - with its Corporate Citizenship Award. AIS has permanent showrooms at its Leominster headquarters and also in Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C. With locations across the U.S., AIS has more than 800 employees and over 1 million square feet of office, showroom and factory space. Sales for 2019 were $225 million. For more information, visit www.ais-inc.com.