Assemblyman Ronald Dancer (R-Plumsted) will introduce a bill requiring every polling place in the state supply face coverings to avoid turning away unmasked voters, he announced Thursday.
The move comes a day after Gov. Phil Murphy said unmasked individuals would not be allowed into polling places for the state’s May municipal and June primary races.
“With all the talk about fair access to voting, one would think the governor would have provided a more reasoned response,” Dancer said. “We are already facing a poll worker shortage. Are they now supposed to act as the masking police and turn voters away? No one should be denied the opportunity to cast their ballot in person. If the state requires face masks for voting, the state must provide face masks for voters.”
The state’s indoor mask mandate was in effect for a series of elections last year, but those races were held primarily using mail-in ballots. A small number of voters cast provisional ballots in-person, and a yet smaller number of voters with disabilities cast machine votes.
New Jersey’s masking rules require residents cover their mouth and nose when in an indoor space open to the public.
It’s not clear whether the bill has any chance of advancing. Democrats in the legislature have so far resisted Republican efforts to tamp down on Murphy’s executive authority.
They’ve been similarly hesitant to override his executive orders, though Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) last month suggested it was time for Murphy to stop relying on emergency powers.