Safety measure waived amid politicisation of face coverings worn to stop virus spreading
Many US states will allow voting without a mask in next week’s presidential election, in an attempt to avoid sparking conflict at polling places where election officials already fear outbreaks of violence.
Even some states that have state or local mask mandates aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus have decided, officially or unofficially, not to enforce the rules on voters, local officials say.
Election officials from several US counties told the Financial Times that they would arrange for unmasked voters to cast ballots outside or in separate areas isolated from other voters.
Poll workers in St Charles county, Missouri, were initially told to “act surprised” and don a mask if voters asked why there were not wearing one.
“You may act surprised that you don’t have a face mask on properly and then apologise as you put the mask on,” said an email sent to poll workers last month. “Wear your mask correctly until the voter leaves the polling place. Please do this every time a voter says something to you.”