Some voters in Virginia reported being turned away at the polls because they weren’t wearing masks when they went to cast their ballots in Tuesday’s highly anticipated gubernatorial race there.
Breitbart shared a tweet from Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, who claimed he was told by poll workers that he needed a mask to vote.
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.
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) November 2, 2021
Officials: Voters don’t need masks
RealClearInvestigations senior writer Mark Hemingway said his polling place, which he said is “in a jurisdiction with no mask mandate in place,” also required masks of voters, according to Breitbart.
Just got this text. They were trying to require masks at my polling place in a jurisdiction with no mask mandate in place. pic.twitter.com/WqgcyO4LYF
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) November 2, 2021
Virginia election officials later confirmed that voters could not be turned away for failing to mask up. In a Tuesday message to poll workers that was later published by GOP-aligned lawyers Harmeet K. Dhillon and Jenna Ellis, Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Chris Piper reportedly said wearing a mask was not a requirement for voters in the commonwealth.
“We have gotten several reports of voters either being turned away or being made to wait until the polling place is clear before being allowed to vote if they refuse to wear a mask,” Piper reportedly wrote, according to The Epoch Times.
“You may not turn voters away because they are not wearing masks,” he added, according to the Times. “While masks are encouraged, every eligible voter is entitled to cast a ballot at their polling place… It is not sufficient to offer curbside voting as an alternative.”
A statement put out by the Virginia Department of Elections echoed the sentiment. “All voters are encouraged to wear a mask when they go to their polling place, but you CANNOT be turned away because you don’t wear one,” the department said, according to reports.
“The spirit of Virginia”
Despite limited reports of voters having trouble casting their ballots, Republicans pulled out big wins in Virginia, with GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin claiming victory in the race for the governor’s mansion. According to CNBC, the latest numbers showed Youngkin taking roughly 51% of the vote in the commonwealth.
“This is the spirit of Virginia coming together like never before,” the governor-elect told supporters around 1 a.m. Wednesday, as news outlets called the race in his favor, according to CNBC. “For too long, we’ve been expected to shelve our dreams, to shelve our hope, to settle for low expectations. We will not be a commonwealth of low expectations. We’ll be a commonwealth of high expectations.”
According to NPR, Youngkin’s Democratic challenger, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, conceded later that morning.