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Wisconsin voters won’t need masks to vote this fall

Voters in Wisconsin will not have to wear face masks to the polls this fall. 

(The Center Square) – As it stands now, people in Wisconsin will have to wear a face mask to the grocery store, the office, to church but not to the polls.

Wisconsin Election Commission Administrator Megan Wolfe on Thursday said Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide mask requirement does not apply to voters.

“Only the Legislature can establish individual voter qualifications,” Wolfe wrote in a question-and-answer supplement to local election managers. “The authority of the Legislature to establish voter qualifications is rooted in the Wisconsin Constitution. The WEC, along with county or local governing bodies and/or election officials, cannot pass ordinances or establish rules that add qualifications for an eligible elector to cast a ballot.”

Wolfe said local election clerks must safely accommodate voters without masks. “This may involve using designated areas of the polling place for these voters or assigning poll workers with additional personal protective equipment to serve these voters,” Wolfe wrote. 

It is not just Evers’ mask order that doesn’t apply to voters. 

“A county or municipal public health order that requires face coverings is not a reason to deny a voter a ballot during in-person absentee or polling place voting,” Wolfe advised. “County or local jurisdictions cannot add additional voter qualifications that are not set forth in the statutes.”

Poll workers, Wolfe said, can be told to wear masks. Likely so could election observers. 

Wolfe said if voters do wear a mask, they should not have to take it off to vote. 

“Most voters will not have to remove their face covering to verify they reasonably resemble the photo on their ID. The requirement is that the photo on the ID must ‘reasonably resemble’ the voter, and commission staff believe this verification can be done in most instances without face covering removal,” Wolfe added. “There may be rare instances where brief removal or rearrangement of the face covering could be necessary during this process, but these instances would be the exception.”

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