Virginia GOP: Voters Without Masks Kept From Polls

Virginia GOP: Voters Without Masks Kept From Polls i voted sticker on a surgical mask (Dreamstime)

By Jack Gournell | Tuesday, 02 November 2021 04:39 PM

The Virginia Republican Party on Tuesday tweeted that it had received reports of people being denied access to vote if they did not wear masks, which the GOP said goes against the state's own rules.

American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp, who votes in Virginia, made a similar claim.

"There have been several reports from voters who say they were told by poll workers that they are required to wear a mask in order to vote. To be clear, if someone is not wearing a face covering they may NOT be turned away or refused their right to vote," the Virginia GOP wrote Tuesday on Twitter.

"Masks are NOT required to vote. There is no mask mandate in Virginia," they said in a follow-up tweet.

Others responding to the tweet said they had no issues and either voted maskless or saw others doing so in other locations. That included Michael Kasrai who said he voted grudgingly for Democrat Terry McAuliffe, but said he did not wear a mask when he did so in Herndon.

But Schlapp tweeted:

I was told at my polling station I couldn’t vote without a mask. Knowing what the GOP thinks about masks, isn’t this just an illegal barrier to voting? But I can count on one thing our judges will do nothing.

Contacted by the Washington Examiner about the incident, Schlapp said he "couldn't enter the school" unless he put on a mask.

A spokesman from the Virginia Department of Elections told the Examiner that Schlapp had indeed put on a mask and voted.

"We prefer people wear a mask," the spokesman told the Examiner, saying that "if people are going to insist on not wearing a mask" they will be allowed other options, such as voting curbside.

McAuliffe, the former Democrat governor, is in a tight race with Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin, who has closed in on McAuliffe in the polls in the final weeks. Turnout could be a deciding factor in the race, and anything that keeps either side from casting a ballot is seen as crucial.

Elections Commissioner Chris Piper said in late October that voters could not be denied the right to cast a ballot indoors even if they refused to wear a mask or appeared to be sick, the Virginia Mercury reported at the time.

"If voters do not have a mask they will be asked to wear one and possible [sic] could be offered a mask if there are extra and be offered the opportunity to vote curbside," Piper told the newspaper. "Ultimately, a voter will not be turned away if they are not wearing a mask but the department strongly encourages them to do so to keep themselves and others around them safe."

Original Article