Voice of the people: Bill Gillmore




Believes polling places should enforce mask mandates


One of the stated reasons for not enforcing the local mask mandate at the polls is that some people might be disenfranchised. An interesting reason. Some people might be inconvenienced by wearing a mask and choose not to vote to avoid the inconvenience. Other people, many at high risk of terrible outcomes from infection, may choose not to vote to protect their lives and the health of their families. It seems to me that someone in one group or the other is going to be disenfranchised. I cannot believe that anyone thinks that these two obstacles are equivalent.


Mississippi has already denied people the right to absentee ballots unless they can clear a high hurdle, forcing them to the polls to vote at all. This Columbus ruling makes voting a life-threatening event.



Then, consider the poll workers, inhaling the aerosols of hundreds of barefaced people, most of whom have done nothing to avoid infection to this point. There they will sit, in an enclosed space, for hours on end as aerosols concentrate, at a time when COVID-19 cases are at record highs.


The other stated reason for the ruling is wrong on the face of it. The lack of a Federal mandate to wear a mask is not an order against local mandates. Further, this is not a Federal election. It is a local election for federal offices, with ballot initiatives for medical marijuana and on acceptance of a flag design that are for Mississippi alone. President Trump himself obeyed the local mandate to wear a mask at his polling place, so apparently the Department of Justice has no objection.


My cynical side tells me that there may be a partisan motive in all this. Bare-faces tend to be Republicans, and wearing a mask will not stop many from voting in such a charged election. Mask-wearers tend to be Democrats, and since they wear masks, they will see the decision to vote in an enclosed space around those not wearing masks as having much more serious potential consequences, and too many will opt for safety first. This issue needs examination, and in a hurry. This week will pass quickly.


Bill Gillmore






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