BELL COUNTY, Texas – On Thursday, the Federal Court of Appeals halted the order requiring masks at polling sites.
This comes 24 hours after U.S. District Court Judge Jason Pulliam ruled that not requiring face coverings inside polling locations is discriminatory against Black and Latino voters, who may face higher risks of death from COVID-19.
“That’s kind of news to me. I thought we were all of the same playing field, as far as that went. I do think it’s important to wear our masks at all times,” said Joann Nichols, a Bell County voter.
Back in July, Governor Greg Abbott exempted masks from being worn at the polls to prevent voters from being turned away.
“We’re giving mixed signals to the public. One time we say we have to have it here, but we don’t have to have it here. There are huge numbers turning out. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be considered a risk for super-spreading,” Nichols added.
At the Bell County Election Administration, mask-wearing is not mandatory to vote.
“We are encouraging, yes, that everyone come in with a mask, especially. Not just because of people of color, but you also have people of age coming in,” said Jeannette Compean, a Bell County Elections Deputy.
So far in the past three weeks, more than 8 million people have voted across the state.
“It’s kind of late to start changing the rules on people. Why not provide the masks at the polling places?,” Nichols said.
Bell County polling locations are giving masks, face shields and hand sanitizer to voters.
The last day to vote early in Texas is October 30th.