News & Politics

[UPDATED] Virginia Voters Denied Entry to Polling Place for Refusing to Mask (But No ID, No Problem)

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Update, 3:59 p.m.: Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Chris Piper issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon after reports of voters being turned away from polling places for not masking surfaced.

“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 wrote. “You may not turn voters away because they are not wearing masks.”

“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,” he added.

“Additionally,” Piper said, “you may not hold up the line to vote based on whether voters are wearing masks.”

Original story:

Virginia doesn’t require an ID to vote, but is there anything at all that can prevent someone from voting in the state? Well, it turns out that at least one precinct in Fairfax County, Va., is requiring masking in order to enter the polling place. A Fairfax County resident reached out to PJ Media to report that he and his wife were turned away at the door because they were not wearing masks. “You can’t enter the building without a mask,” they were told by a woman stationed at the door, presumably a poll worker. The woman said that the couple and their children—one of whom is a two-year-old with medical issues that preclude him from wearing a mask—would be required to mask up or they would not be allowed to enter the building.

Note the signs on the door at Precinct 507 in Lincolnia:

According to a directive from the DoE, that shouldn’t be happening:

Can we require a voter to wear a mask? No, we are encouraging voters to bring masks if they must show up in-person to vote. However, if someone is not wearing a face covering you may not turn him or her away. You may offer the voter curbside voting or offer them a face covering if you have any extra available. You cannot turn a voter away because they refuse to use a mask.

In fact, even a voter showing symptoms of COVID-19 cannot be barred from entering the polling place:

What if a voter is displaying symptoms of illness? You can offer them curbside voting to ensure they stay outside. If a voter is symptomatic and insists on voting in the polling place, you cannot turn them away.

Yet this sign seems to indicate otherwise:

The voters, who are fully vaxxed and wish to remain anonymous, were not offered curbside voting, as required by the DoE. After they insisted, election officials allowed them to use the curbside voting option. In order to exercise that option, the voters, who said they voted for Republican Glenn Youngkin for governor, were required to call a California number to begin the process, which seems… odd.

Once they did that, two poll workers came out and took their IDs inside. The whole process took about 20 minutes.

Had they not insisted on curbside voting (after Googling what the requirements were) they wouldn’t have been allowed to vote. While the voters were not technically turned away, the poll worker had no right to prevent them from entering the polling place, which raises the question: How many voters have been turned away for refusing to mask? I’m guessing this is more than just an isolated incident because one of the voters received a text message today from someone supporting the Youngkin campaign.

The Virginia GOP is also been made aware of instances of voters being denied entry to the polling place:

There are others as well, including American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp:

Now, it should be noted that this is a county-owned building, which has its own masking requirements, but, again, the DoE directive is clear that poll workers may not turn away voters who refuse to mask.

On a side note, earlier this year, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill into law removing the requirement that voters show photo ID in order to cast their ballots. All that’s needed is a signed statement attesting to the voter’s identity.

From the Virginia Department of Elections:

Do I need an ID to vote?
Voters may provide either an acceptable form of ID or sign an ID Confirmation Statement at the polls.

* Your DMV license may be used at any time. Virginia law permits an expired DMV license to be used for voting purposes.

Can I vote if I forget my ID?
Yes! If you get to your polling place without acceptable ID, you can sign an ID statement affirming your identity, you will be able to vote a regular ballot.

If you do not sign an ID statement to affirm your identity you may vote a provisional ballot. You will be provided instructions to ensure your vote will count.

In other words, it’s on the honor system. If you’re willing to sign a statement saying you’re Joe Voter—who you know is not planning to vote today—you can vote his ballot, no questions asked. When people scoff at the notion that there’s little or no voter fraud, I always ask: How do you know? How would Virginia know if thousands of voters were fraudulently claiming to be someone they’re not? Answer: They wouldn’t. This kind of voter fraud is nearly impossible to detect, so we really have no idea widespread the problem is.

Don’t be surprised if the unauthorized masking requirements in some polling places depress voter turnout for Republican candidates.