Indiana's mask mandate not enforceable at voting locations, secretary of state's office says

Posted at 10:00 AM, Oct 30, 2020

MUNCIE — Dennis Everette found the sign hard to believe.

When Everette, a Muncie resident, went to vote at the Delaware County Government Center, he saw a sign informing people they did not have to wear a mask to go inside despite the statewide mask mandate. Language on the sign, however, asked people to consider wearing a mask to protect others from COVID-19.

"Just given the fact that Delaware County is a hot spot, it seems like they wouldn't be OK with just letting people inside the building without a mask on," Everette said. "You can't walk in there without pants or shoes. You can't walk in there with political logos on your t-shirts. There's all sorts of restrictions in place, so I don't know how this one would be any different."

However, the office of Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson's says it is different. WRTV reached out to Lawson's office for clarification and received the following statement.

A voter is entitled to cast a ballot if the person meets the requirements for voting set out in the Indiana Constitution and applicable Indiana statutes. The Constitution in Article 2, Section 2 only requires that a voter be at least 18 years of age, must be a citizen of the United States, and a resident of their precinct at least 30 days before an election. Various statutes in the election code set forth deadlines for applying to register that an individual must meet.

Nothing in the Constitution prohibits a person from exercising their right to vote due to illness or disability. As a result, a voter cannot be required to wear protective devices or apparel as a precondition to appearing in-person at the polls. To require them to do so would violate their constitutional right.

Secretary Lawson has encouraged every voter to wear a mask and has provided each county with PPE for poll workers and extra mask for voters who need one.

The lack of a mask requirement at polling places still doesn't sit well with Everette, despite the statement from Lawson's office.

"Even if a person a has legitimate medical reason to not wear a mask, they could always mail in their vote. I don't buy the idea that this mandate that would keep people from voting," Everette said.

On Wednesday, WRTV reached out to those in charge of voting in Delaware County for comment, but we have yet to receive a reply.