Across the country, state and local officials have found that their powers are being tested by those who are resisting COVID-19 emergency orders and measures. As the pandemic subsides during an election year, many question whether mask-wearing orders will apply to polling places, and whether this mandate is enforceable at the national level. Who is legally entitled to and will voters across the country be required to wear masks at polling stations?
State laws and executive orders
Minnesota Gov. Tim Falls’ restrictions on COVID-19 restrictions have already been challenged by several lawsuits, with the most recent being over his recent executive order requiring masks to be worn indoors statewide. With the state primaries on August 11, the Minnesota Alliance of Voters filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the Executive Order, citing its conflict of state law barring citizens from concealing their identity in public with a mask.
Minnesota Concern Act of 1963 and StatesA person who conceals his identity in a public place by means of a robe, mask, or other disguise, unless it is based on religious beliefs or a show of amusement, entertainment, protection from the weather, or medical treatment, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
Laws and executive orders on masks They vary between states, so be sure to keep up to date on the safety measures required in your area.
The Voters ‘Alliance, backed by several Republican lawmakers, argues that Walls’ executive order is illegal and unconstitutional, although state law is excluded for “medical reasons.” Although the exact interpretation of this phrase is left to the judge’s discretion, it seems likely that preventing the spread of COVID-19, which is a very dangerous and contagious virus, will be included within the mask-wearing exceptions.
Teddy Tschann, a spokesman for Walz, stated that compliance with the mask mandate would not violate the 1963 Act because it specifically relates to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. According to the Star Tribune, Tschann also noted that “historically, emergency enforcement orders supersede normal state laws.”
This precedent makes a Minnesota Alliance of Electors victory seem unlikely in this case, although it is possible that a judge may issue an interim injunction on Walz’s order before the primaries on Tuesday.
More than 500,000 Minnesota residents asked to vote by mail in the 2020 primary, a number About ten times higher than in the 2018 primary. Voters will have to post their ballots on or before Tuesday in order to be counted.
Despite the voters ’coalition’s concerns, officials stated that the constitutional right to vote would not be impeded by a citizen without a mask. This means you can vote at the polls without wearing a mask. The Voters Alliance alleges that some polling officials have been instructed to write the names of citizens who vote without wearing masks and that these people may later face fines or other penalties for violating the masks order. It remains to be seen whether or not there is truth to this claim.