Date of Release or Mention:Friday, July 10, 2020
Austin - When Governor Abbott issued his requirement to wear face masks, he specifically exempted polling places. His statement on that issue: not having a mask should not impede a voter’s constitutional right to vote. "The League of Women Voters agrees!" said League president Grace Chimemen, "Every voter should be able to vote safely: if a voter does not have a mask, one should be provided when stepping into the polling place!"
Texans are in the midst of a pandemic. Voters should not have to choose between exercising their right to vote and their health. Many voters have health issues that make them particularly susceptible to Covid-19.
The Governor opposed expanding vote-by-mail eligibility during this pandemic. So instead, many voters must go in person to their local polling places. The Secretary of State and county officials have issued protocols to address health risks at polling places. ( May/2020 Health Protocol for Voters and Elections & June/2020 Voting In-Person During COVID-19)
As the medical experts have said repeatedly, wearing a mask does not just protect the wearer from the virus but protects others from getting contaminated. Requiring that everyone at the polling place wear a mask would mitigate the spread of the virus as people gather.
In times of emergency, such as this pandemic, the Governor has unique powers that he has had no qualms in exercising. Exempting polling places from his face mask requirement unnecessarily puts voters at risk.
Texas should be ensuring that citizens exercising their right to vote, may do so safely. If a voter does not have a mask, one should be provided at the polling place. "We urge Governor Abbott to provide county election officials with as many masks as they need to ensure safe polling places!' stated Ms. Chimene.
League of Women Voters' nonpartisan Voters Guide is available on VOTE411.org. . VOTE411 allows voters to research the candidates on their ballot, select the candidates of their choice, and print out their selections. For those who prefer to read a print version of the Voters Guide, there is a copy of the Texas League's Voters Guide on the LWVTX website.
Additional election information can be found in the Voting and Election section of the League website. The League's special webpage on Voting & the Coronavirus addresses voting safely. The League also provides Texas voter information in Spanish on the website and in VOTE411.org. Texas voters may also find local information on their county website.
While the League of Women Voters never supports or opposes candidates or parties, they encourage every eligible Texan to Be A Texas Voter! Their mission is: Empowering Voters. Defending Democracy.
League to which this content belongs:Texas