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Desirée Charity casting an early ballot in person at the new Richmond registrar's office on Oct. 20. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Virginia voters who show up on Election Day without a mask or visibly sick will be asked to put a mask on or cast their ballot outside the polling place, but they won’t be denied access if they refuse, according to state election officials.

At a virtual media briefing Tuesday on the state’s plans for a coronavirus-disrupted presidential election, Elections Commissioner Chris Piper said the state can’t prohibit anyone from voting if they insist on casting a ballot indoors without wearing a mask.

“If voters do not have a mask they will be asked to wear one and possible could be offered a mask if there are extra and be offered the opportunity to vote curbside,” Piper said in a statement to the Mercury after the briefing. “Ultimately, a voter will not be turned away if they are not wearing a mask but the department strongly encourages them to do so to keep themselves and others around them safe.”

Election officials are planning to have stockpiles of masks at polling places, purchased with federal CARES Act funding.

Curbside voting is usually available for people 65 and older or those with physical disabilities, allowing them to cast ballots without leaving their vehicle.

Mask in polling places is a policy question officials have wrestled with across the country as they try to balance the need to make voting accessible to all with rules requiring masks to be worn in most indoor spaces.

Voters will not be asked to remove their masks to verify a photo on their ID, election officials said. Election workers will be allowed to temporarily remove their masks in order to assist voters who need to read lips.

Virginia law says it’s illegal for anyone inside a polling place to “hinder or delay a qualified voter.” Violations are punishable as a misdemeanor carrying fines of up to $2,500 and/or up to a year in jail.

On May 29, Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order mandating that face coverings be worn in businesses, restaurants, entertainment venues, government buildings and “any other indoor place shared by groups of people who are in close proximity to each other.”

But since the beginning of the pandemic, Northam has stressed he’s not seeking maximum enforcement of social distancing policies and expects Virginians to voluntarily comply with public-health guidelines.

In a statement, Northam spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky said the governor “expects every person to wear a mask when voting, period.”

“Virginia currently mandates face coverings be worn inside public places, and he takes this order seriously — that’s why he supports legislation imposing a civil fine for violations of this (or other) executive orders,” Yarmosky said. “The right to vote is well-protected in the Constitution, however, and no one can be prevented from voting due to a lack of a mask alone. However, if a voter is not wearing a mask they will be asked to vote curbside, vote by mail or drop off an absentee ballot instead.”

The absentee options will not be available to voters not wearing masks on Election Day.

Even though election officials may not strictly enforce mask-wearing, there’s been no shortage of viral Internet videos of heated confrontations in businesses caused by anti-mask customers, some involving workers enforcing mask rules and some involving other customers doing vigilante mask enforcement.

Though there don’t appear to have been any publicized examples of mask-related conflicts at polling places during Virginia’s early voting period, it’s possible many voters who oppose masks or doubt the seriousness of COVID-19 are less likely to take advantage of early voting and plan to vote in person on Nov. 3 as they normally would.

It’s also likely the crowds will be scarcer on Election Day since more than 1.3 million Virginians have already voted early, either in person or by returning an absentee ballot through the mail or a drop-off box. On Election Day, poll workers will be taking other social distancing measures like limiting the number of people allowed inside and disinfecting frequently used surfaces.

This story was originally published by the Virginia Mercury.

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(24) comments

Hawkeye10

Waiting patiently for the study to be published, that is if its allowed ever again...

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/top-scientific-journals-reject-controversial-danish-study-on-effectiveness-of-face-masks-against-coronavirus-report

Soily

At least not before the election, or until Democrats finish their voter harvesting. Research shows the vast majority of COVID-19 victims were wearing a mask, you know like the Democrats beloved racist governor did: https://thefederalist.com/2020/10/12/cdc-study-finds-overwhelming-majority-of-people-getting-coronavirus-wore-masks/

Iwouldntgiveabean

The study (linked within the article) was funded Salling Fondene, a Danish company that has financial ties to Trump.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32829745/

I love how Trump has been soliciting donations from the Danish:

https://copenhagencontemporary.org/en/a-thousand-mails-from-trump/

Point is, the study is biased and the medical community at large has discredited the bogus studies.

Wear a mask. 6ft. distance. Wash hands.

Hawkeye10

Appreciate the cross-checking,

In a previous post I stated:

There is no way.....Im sorry, there is just no way a mask is effective, because the virus particles that cant been seen with the naked eye every easily penetrate a cloth mask and a paper mask. Period. And thats the cold hard truth, and always has been. Not to mention the air we breathe always contains viral fragments.

6 foot social distancing is irrelevant also, because there are plenty of viral fragments that stay suspended in the air for hours on end. These are just made up guidelines with no truth attached. The bottom line is, wearing the mask and staying 6 feet apart doesn't combat anything at all, what so ever. Its a social distraction and a terrible example of health-consciousness, especially for our children!

And neither is obsessive hand-sanatizer. Ethyl Alcohol at best is an anti-bacterial, not an effective anti-viral. Good old fashioned non chemically derived soap and water is the healthiest option always, since its "removes" germs, it does not "kill" them.

So when you blindly re-herase:

"Wear a mask. 6ft. distance. Wash hands."

Its like.....huh? For what, for how long? Until when? A vaccine doesnt "cure" anything for starters, and why would I even want one? Vaccines are harmful for our immune system and our nervous system, and thats also a fact. If you really want to "target" the virus, you need not a vaccine at all. As the science is showing, A blood type individuals seem to have a more difficult time of defending against this disease. Has nothing to do with race...

Is this censored video wrong also? Because they question authority and point out the truth?

https://www.oann.com/doctors-take-down-misinformation-on-coronavirus/

How long possibly can this debate go on for....The truth is out there. This mask non-sense and a sense of staying 6 feet apart for protection is just insane. And its a shame for the human psyche...

Iwouldntgiveabean

@Hakeye10:

Wear a mask:

This is to protect both you and the people around you. The virus is aerosolized, meaning it is virtually airborne and travels via droplets (attached to water) when you exhale. Putting on a mask mitigates the transfer of said droplets from when you exhale, thru mask, into the environment, into another mask, and then into another persons mouth or nose.

6ft, Distance:

At least 6ft. is needed when interacting with people. The droplets, if not gatekeeped by a mask, will drop due to gravity. The mist that come out of your mouth when you speak or nose when you exhale will move in a downward trajectory after 2 meters. This has been well documented by numerous countries who have reduced the infection rate because the people abided by the rules set out by a science based government directive.

Wash your hands:

Use basic soap. That is it. Pretty basic. Those who remember biology from High School will remember that the structure of a virus is made of lipids. So soap (an emulsifier) will dissolve the outer shell of the virus and it will be rinsed down the drain. For a refresher on the structure of viruses go here if interested: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3187601/

Now, doing one of these and thinking you are compliant is flat out wrong. You have to do at least these 3 safety measures to protect yourself and others.

The anti- vaccine argument is stupid. And conspiracy news rots the brain. Peer-reviewed studies that have been scrutinized scientifically should provide ample guidance.

Hawkeye10

The only thing I really agree with you on is the soap and washing hands, for just general hygiene aspects really.

But I laugh at the simplicity of your "droplets" claims and what a cloth or paper face covering (its not really a mask, to be technical, the N95 is a mask, or the N99 or anything rated above those).

But I shake my head when you state:

Now, doing one of these and thinking you are compliant is flat out wrong. You have to do at least these 3 safety measures to protect yourself and others.

Really? Thats what I have to do, I have to lie to myself, and feed off of the ignorance of others, for a false sense of security? For a false sense of "were all in this together?" I have to do that, thats what your telling me to do, I have no choice in the matter. I have to practice all three of these things for the rest of my life in order to prevent a man-made manufactured patented virus from entering my body?

Is Li-Meng Yan (Chinese Virologist) putting her life on the line for no reason at all?

Your claim: The anti- vaccine argument is stupid. And conspiracy news rots the brain.

I could go on and on and on about Vaccines, but the truth and cold hard evidence of negligence is out there, you just have to find it for your self. Its not stupid at all...and its not a conspiracy either. When one decides to get Vaccinated, the have no rhyme or reason to complain about somebody else who opted out. After all they are Vaccinated so they are "protected." If someone around them is not vaccinated, what would the Vaccinated individual have to be concerned about?

Im probably just more sick of being lied to than you are...

Iwouldntgiveabean

@Hawkeye10

Ok, there is a lot to unpack.

First to address your claim of artificially manufactured virus:

https://apnews.com/article/afs:Content:9391149002

https://www.sciencealert.com/here-s-what-scientists-think-of-the-coronavirus-was-made-in-a-lab-rumour

https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-not-human-made-in-lab.html

https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-lab-manmade-myth-debunked-2020-6

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/virologists-vigorously-debunk-study-origins-coronavirus/story?id=71097846

Provide multiple scientific sources (meaning peer-reviewed) that support your claim against vaccines.

Li-Meng Yan's report was also debunked after it was revealed that Steve Bannon funded the paper: https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/21/politics/coronavirus-lab-theory-yan-bannon-invs/index.html

Here is the paper: https://zenodo.org/record/4028830#.X4zTmi2z3kK

Here is Johns Hopkins response to the paper: https://www.centerforhealthsecurity.org/our-work/pubs_archive/pubs-pdfs/2020/200921-in-response-yan.pdf

As for the droplets, here is the information from the CDC:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/scientific-brief-sars-cov-2.html

"The principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus.

Respiratory droplets are produced during exhalation (e.g., breathing, speaking, singing, coughing, sneezing) and span a wide spectrum of sizes that may be divided into two basic categories based on how long they can remain suspended in the air:

Larger droplets some of which are visible and that fall out of the air rapidly within seconds to minutes while close to the source.

Smaller droplets and particles (formed when small droplets dry very quickly in the airstream) that can remain suspended for many minutes to hours and travel far from the source on air currents.

Once respiratory droplets are exhaled and as they move outward from the source, their concentration decreases through fallout from the air (largest droplets first, smaller later) combined with dilution of the remaining smaller droplets and particles into the growing volume of air they encounter."

I mean really, if you cant do three simple things, how do you function as an adult?

Hawkeye10

Most, not all, of the links you provided I personally dont care about their narrative. I just care about the truth, not censorship and propaganda.

As time passes, the more information Li-Meng Yan reveals, she wont have to do anything else. The evidence will speak for its self.

The bottom line is, im not going to change your mind. If you want to live like this, thats on you, but the rest of us shouldnt have to. The red flag was especially states in the U.S. following chinese communist protocol of "lockdowns." They didnt lock Wuhan down to combat the spread of a virus. Never in the history of the world have the well been lock-downed and recommended a 14 day Quarantine if exposed. Further, it is virtually non-lethal virus to 25 and under, WORLDWIDE.

This cant ever happen again and if it does, kiss your rights good bye forever.

Hawkeye10

Plus I should just add, if an individual does go to the polling place without a face-covering, (with the exception of a medical reason) its just confirmation that individual more likely than not will not be voting Democrat, all the more reason one is potentially putting their vote at risk.

TPL

Lol, okay, sure. Your smugness doesn't negate common sense nor actual science. Btw, if the virus is aerosolized then your mask isn't working unless it's a respirator, that's a fact which no lab study can actually refute given real world experience based studies.

InsideCommenter

@Hawkeye10

You just keep on regurgitating nonsense from some false source, that is has no peer reviewed scholarly studies to back up it claims. Its sad to see members of our community completely brainwashed by what they see on the internet.

InsideCommenter

@Hawkeye10

You're full of nonsense I'm sorry to say you don't read any of the evidence based studies Iwouldntgiveabean is posting, and are instead posting fake BS from OANN a known propaganda network with ties to foreign adversaries. Not to mention masks aren't a CURE, they're a PREVENTATIVE measure, that REDUCES the number of aerosolized droplets that come from an unmasked and close by face, doesn't mean you're 1000% in the clear.

Hawkeye10

No, im not full of any non-sense, your saying the 16 doctors in the video are full of non-sense, and they have nothing to do with OANN, a non-corporate news channel. OANN simply didnt want to censor the video. Just like how the other news channels are censoring the video, and they are censoring Dr. Li-Meng. Are they not allowed to do that?

All the other side moans and groans about is ties to foreign adversaries, man oh man, what about your boy Demoralized Joe? Im not a native american, so I must have ties to "foreign adversaries" as well. Tribalism is the new propaganda technique in case you havent noticed. Any politician who gives a rats @ss about the Constitution and our Sovereignty usually has ties to foreign adversaries any how. It shouldnt be of no surprise to the other side why Trump won in 2016, and why hes going to win again. Its an all out assault against the american people, it just appears as an all out assault against him. Thats the truth, and I dont need the news to tell me that. Its not ALL the other side, its both major parties, but im saying other side as it relates to you and Ms. Bean.

Ive read the propaganda that your ally has posted. And then I research for myself, because the truth matters. Not what a communist news network rehearses. Shouldnt you be ashamed you tune into and believe propaganda? Its no different from what the North Koreans have to deal with, propaganda is exactly that. And unfortunately it works. Its really not that difficult to control the masses, then Trump an outsider runs and wins, and they panicked. They sure loved covering him when their ratings were off the charts. That should tell yoy everything you need to know.

Its very stunning, how you and your ally want to sit here and "lecture" and your hat speaks for its self, and here I am thinking for myself, the irony is prevalent.

Best of luck to you in the future...Not sure what your gonna think or do once Trump wins the election. Maybe you'll be in favor of locking everyone down so they cant "think" about what they've done!

Iwouldntgiveabean

@Hawkeye10

Thanks for expressing your delusional thesis. It was really entertaining. I look forward to reading your rantings not based in reality with much interest. I don't like to make fun of autistic people, but in your case, I'll make an exception.

Have a nice weekend. Wash your hands. Stay 6ft. from others. Wear a mask.

Hawkeye10

For Ms.Bean,

I think these comments alone tell me everything I need to know about you, and to stay as far away as possible!

JimiWeaver4

To quote Chris Wallace of Fox News “JUST WEAR THE DAMN MASK”

SuperNova

If you can’t wear a mask for 30 seconds to vote.... YOU SUCK!

Hawkeye10

Sic Semper Tyrannis,

Guess the legislature will be trying to remove that from the State Flag here pretty soon, just like how the legislature passed a law mandating masks...

Oh wait a second, they didnt! There is no law!

Declarative government...

American

YES, you must wear a MASK, but not show NO ID, you can show a water bill?

TPL

If you only need to wear a mask for 30 seconds, then you don't actually need to wear a mask. Sustained close quarters contact is needed for even an infected individual to maybe pass it on, just walking past someone or even a brief encounter isn't going to do it.

SuperNova

Would you not wash your hands for 30 seconds after sitting on the same toilet as everyone?

American

Not if Biden or Harris was sitting on the same toilet.

Iwouldntgiveabean

https://i.imgur.com/dQES7Au.gifv

SuperNova

You are all not immune like Trump is!!! Please wear a mask voters!!!

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