Mark Henry Press Conference

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, left, and Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset speak Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, at a press conference to announce an executive order preventing election workers from requiring that voters wear masks to enter polling locations.


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.

Matt deGrood: 409-683-5230;


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(26) comments

Carlos Ponce

The order actually came from the Governor July 2, 2020:

"this face-covering requirement does not apply to the following:

...any person who is voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election, but wearing a face covering is strongly encouraged"

Encourage but not required.

Bailey Jones

Hmmm - I wonder who they were voting for?

Adrian Raymer

Judge Henry’s encouragement to wear masks might be more effective if he set the example by doing it himself.

Craig Mason

Mark Henry doesn’t do a thing for six months then wants to act like a Double D Douche and attempt to impose a fine on poll workers. His fine will never stand up in court because the judge does not have the authority to unilaterally impose fines as the county judge. I would love for someone to challenge his fine. Hell I would pitch in for the go fund me to cover legal expenses. I agree with the governors order, but a thousand dollar fine is a little onerous. I see the poll workers as folks to be admired, not threatened with fines. It seems when the judge does take a stand he always seems to be on the wrong side of the issue. Can’t wait for him to come up for re-election.

Carlos Ponce

Sounds like Liberal desperation.

Craig Mason

Huh? Liberal desperation? I stated I agreed with the governors order involving polling places. I just don’t think poll workers should fined 1000 dollars. That is a thankless job and don’t believe the arbitrary levying of fines is in the purview of the county judge alone. I am beginning to believe you must of been a boxer at one time Carlos, because you have obviously taken one too many blows to the head if you think that disagreeing with a potential illegal order is liberal. It’s not liberal, just educated and compassionate.

Carlos Ponce

"CDC Study Finds Overwhelming Majority Of People Getting Coronavirus Wore Masks"

"Despite over 70 percent of the case-patient participants’ efforts to follow CDC recommendations by committing to always wearing face coverings at 'gatherings with ≤10 or >10 persons in a home; shopping; dining at a restaurant; going to an office setting, salon, gym, bar/coffee shop, or church/religious gathering; or using public transportation,' they still contracted the virus."

CDC Source Material:

From Table found on page 4 of 7 of the PDF:

Reported use of cloth face covering or mask 14 days before illness onset:

Never 6

Rarely 6


Often 22


Bailey Jones

"In this investigation, participants with and without COVID-19 reported generally similar community exposures, with the exception of going to locations with on-site eating and drinking options. Adults with confirmed COVID-19 (case-patients) were approximately twice as likely as were control-participants to have reported dining at a restaurant in the 14 days before becoming ill. In addition to dining at a restaurant, case-patients were more likely to report going to a bar/coffee shop, but only when the analysis was restricted to participants without close contact with persons with known COVID-19 before illness onset. Reports of exposures in restaurants have been linked to air circulation.

Direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance. Masks cannot be effectively worn while eating and drinking, whereas shopping and numerous other indoor activities do not preclude mask use.

"Among adults with COVID-19, 42% reported close contact with a person with COVID-19, similar to what has been reported previously. Most close contact exposures were to family members, consistent with household transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Fewer (14%) persons who received a negative SARS-CoV-2 test result reported close contact with a person with known COVID-19."

I find it difficult to believe that over 70% of both groups wore masks at home, around their family. I don't know anyone who would, until after a family member has become symptomatic. Obviously wearing a mask when you go out does nothing to protect you from a sick family member at home. So what this small study shows is that people got sick from close exposure to other sick people, and from not wearing masks while out in public (dining).

And I'll remind you that the primary purpose of masks is not to protect yourself, but those around you. Note that when Trump brought the virus home, both his wife and son also caught it. Because people don't wear masks at home.

Dan Freeman

Again Mr. Ponce does not let facts get in the way of his misrepresentation of a study. This study was not designed to assess the efficacy of mask wearing. The study concerned the effect of close contact associated with COVID-19 among symptomatic adults. It was a case control study of 314 persons, who were tested for SARS-CoV-2. 154 tested positive. Those testing positive were twice as likely to have reported dining in a restaurant in the 14 days before becoming ill. They were also more likely to have gone to a bar/coffee shop. This emphasizes the risks associated with restaurants and bars. The report acknowledges that masks cannot be worn effectively while eating or drinking, so the similarity in the groups with respect to mask wearing is neither surprising nor relevant. Moreover this report was of a study conducted in July.

Carlos Ponce

Not my interpretation, Dan, the CDC's. Or doesn't Dan believe the "experts"????????

Dan Freeman

You reported the study out of context. I am appalled that a former teacher consistently misrepresents facts and statements by knowledgeable people.

Carlos Ponce

I used the data provided, Dan.

Gary Scoggin

Just becuase something is legal doesn't mean it's right. Just be considerate of the poll workers and wear a must when you vote. Even if you don't legally have to.

Carlos Ponce

Most people wear a mask, Gary Scoggin, including poll workers. A young lady with two children voted maskless. A man wearing a Trump face mask was asked to remove it.

Ted Gillis

Way to go Judge Henry. That will show them that you can’t be bullied by a bunch of minimum wage poll workers. You’re the county’s top executive by golly, not them. Who do they think they are anyway? How dare they look out for their own safety and the safety of the voters standing in line. That’s not their job, that’s the county judges’ job. Write those orders and fine those election workers, that’ll show’em.

And for anybody that is now concerned about their own safety and wanting to vote? Well tuff luck, Judge Henry has made an executive order for you. Risk your health or stay home.

Carlos Ponce

So, does Ted want the poll workers to ignore the Governor's executive order?

Ted Gillis

Of course not Carlos, because they’ll be fined $1,000.00 if they do.

Carlos Ponce

Ted posted "Judge Henry" has made an executive order for you.

Judge Henry did not, could not issue an executive order. Governor Abbott did. So why is Ted blaming Mark Henry for the EO. All he is doing is ENFORCING it.

Did Ted Gillis screw up AGAIN?

Craig Mason

I think Carlos suffered a head injury. I agreed with the governors order but not the illegal order for fines by Henry and he said I was liberal.

Carlos Ponce

Craig Mason posts, "I agreed with the governors order but not the illegal order for fines by Henry"

Did Craig Mason BOTHER to read Governor Abbott's Executive Order????

Page 2: "WHEREAS,failure to comply with any executive order issued during the COVID-19 disaster is an offense punishable under Section 418.173 by fine."

County Judge Mark Henry is following the Executive Order. Either Craig Mason FAILED to read the Executive Order or has no understanding of what "an offense punishable under Section 418.173 by fine" means.

"Texas Government Code § 418.173. Penalty for Violation of Emergency Management Plan -

(a) A state, local, or interjurisdictional emergency management plan may provide that failure to comply with the plan or with a rule, order, or ordinance adopted under the plan is an offense.

(b) The plan may prescribe a punishment for the offense but may not prescribe a fine that exceeds $1,000 or confinement in jail for a term that exceeds 180 days."

Craig Mason

I don’t believe the county judge alone has the authority to levy those fines on executive order. Just like Ted said, he sure is showing those poll workers isn’t he. I hate that his and his wife’s feelings got hurt when they were asked to wear a mask.

Carlos Ponce

Craig Mason, read the Governor's executive order. County Judge Mark Henry is just following that order.

Carlos Ponce

Craig Mason posts, "I don’t believe the county judge alone has the authority to levy those fines on executive order." He does.

From the Executive Order:

"Local law enforcement and other local officials, as appropriate, can and should enforce this executive order, Executive Order GA-28, and other effective executive orders, as well as local restrictions that are consistent with this executive order and other effective executive orders."

As a local official the county judge has the authority to levy those fines on the executive order.

Doug Sivyer

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry, you are a disgrace to the bench and the community you serve. It's not a question of weather it's mandatory or not. It's a question of what is in the best interest of public health & safety. It's proven fact that mask wearing helps prevent the spread of COVID 19. The mask mandates across this nation are for good reason. And you of all people Si, should be setting the example. Your choice to wear a mask or not is your right, however it is reckless and irresponsible and puts me and others at unnecessary risk . Your position on this drive the voters decision come reelection time Your Honor.

Carlos Ponce

Poor Doug, you are so confused. Weather has nothing to do with the issue!

Ted Gillis

And neither does spellcheck.

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