Texas voters are nowrequired to wear face masks when casting ballots during the pandemic, a federal district judge ruled Tuesday, invalidating an exemption for polling places that Gov. Greg Abbott had included in his statewide mask mandate.
The governor’s mandate for Texans to cover their mouths and noses in public does not apply to polling places, an exclusion that has been challenged as discriminatory against Black and Latino voters who are more likely to be harmed by the coronavirus. Abbott has previously said he encourages voters to wear a face mask, but said he excluded polling places from his mandate to prevent people from being turned away from voting just because they don’t have a mask. Under Abbott’s order, poll workers are also not required to wear masks.
In his temporary ruling, U.S. District Judge Jason Pulliam said the exemption “creates a discriminatory burden on Black and Latino voters.”
Abbott and Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs immediately sought an appeal at the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.