Galveston County Judge Mark Henry late Friday signed off on an executive order requiring poll workers to allow residents to vote without a mask or risk a $1,000 fine.
The order comes in response to more than six reported incidents in which county residents have tried to vote at various locations and been turned away because they weren’t wearing masks, Henry said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott already had stipulated in his most recent mask order that voters were strongly encouraged but not required to wear masks while voting.
“This issue raises a significant Constitutional concern and we’ve tried to resolve it at a low level,” Henry said.
Henry himself encountered a problem when he went to vote, where a poll worker tried to tell him he had to wear a mask or leave, he said. Henry told the worker that wasn’t the case, voted and left.
Poll workers should have been better trained about the mask rules, Henry said.
The hope is that Henry’s order, which went into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, will settle the issue without further controversy, Henry said.
Sheriff Henry Trochesset said his office will investigate any instances it hears about. A poll worker violating the order could face a $1,000 fine.
County officials, before Henry signed the executive order, have encountered issues with some voting locations at private facilities, where some poll workers argued the county couldn’t dictate to them, Henry said.
“This should put people on notice,” Henry said.
Henry echoed the governor’s guidance, however, that voters still are strongly encouraged to follow medical pandemic guidance and wear masks when in public.