On Tuesday, citizens won another victory against coronavirus tyranny when they held Southlake Mayor Laura Hill accountable for mandating masks when voting—which violates one of the exceptions listed in the governor’s mask mandate. Hill responded appropriately to citizens by admitting fault, apologizing, and ending the mandate.
Since July 2, Texas has been under a statewide mask mandate issued by Gov. Greg Abbott, with a list of exemptions.
Section 2 exempts those with medical issues or a disability that prevents them from wearing a mask, while Section 8 exempts voters.
Tuesday afternoon, True Texas Project CEO Julie McCarty reminded voters of this in a post on social media. One citizen replied that Southlake Mayor Laura Hill wasn’t following Abbott’s voting exemption.
Hill’s Facebook page features a video detailing the voting experience at Southlake Town Hall with the new coronavirus procedures. At the 1:13 minute mark, voters are told they are required to wear a mask in order to vote.
This mandate violated Abbott’s exemption as well as the Tarrant County commissioners’.
It also exceeded the Texas Secretary of State’s health protocols for voting, which only asks voters to consider wearing a mask.
“Once a city/church/etc. enters into a contract to become a polling location, that location is under the jurisdiction of the Election Code and Secretary of State,” Christine Welborn, Direct Action Texas’ director of election integrity, told Texas Scorecard. “During the hours of voting, the Election Code supersedes any rules, laws, or ordinances normally in place at that location.”
“This is especially true of any extra restrictions. This is why masks cannot be required at polling locations during the hours of voting,” she added. “Voting in person is still the safest, most secure way to vote.”
Nonetheless, signage requiring masks at the Southlake Town Hall voting location was posted. After a citizen shared a photo of the signage, McCarty publicly called for Hill to “take care of this illegal notice.”
“We were wrong,” Hill admitted.
Hill replied to an inquiry from Texas Scorecard.
“We were absolutely incorrect,” she wrote. “We have corrected all the signage, and a new video is being issued as we speak. We did not have any incidents today, and those that voted without masks had no issues.”
“I want to thank the citizens for bringing this issue to our attention,” Councilman Shahid Shafi stated. “We took immediate action to ensure that city hall staff complied with Gov. Abbott’s directive on use of masks while voting.”
“Folks, not a lot of elected persons would fix it and apologize … especially not so promptly,” McCarty posted after thanking Hill.
Hill replied to McCarty, apologizing again and stating corrective measures were being made.
The video mandating masks has since been removed and replaced with an updated one that reflects Abbott’s voting exemption.
Southlake’s Facebook page also posted a link to Tarrant County’s notice, which states masks are not mandated when voting.
Hill’s response should come as no surprise to those in Southlake. She took citizens’ side last month in the controversy surrounding the Carroll Independent School District board and their divisive, pro-LGBTQ “Cultural Competence Action Plan.”
In the era of coronavirus mandates and local tyranny, it’s unknown if all will follow her example.
Abbott’s mask mandate is still in effect, and he has given no indication as to when he will end it.
Because Tarrant County’s commissioners have been following Abbott’s lead, their extension of their countywide mask mandate to the end of November could indicate the governor’s intentions.
Concerned voters may contact their state senator, their state representative, and Gov. Abbott.
If you or anyone you know encounters mask mandates when voting, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.