Minnesota voter group files lawsuit to block mask mandate at polling places

A group of Minnesota voters filed a federal lawsuit against state and local leaders, including Governor Tim Walz, over concerns the statewide mask mandate creates a legal conflict that will cause them to break the law when voting in-person.

According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday, the Minnesota Voters Alliance is calling for the court to grant a temporary restraining order over the mask mandate.

The lawsuit points to a Minnesota statute that makes it illegal to conceal one's identity in public by wearing a mask. The penalty is a misdemeanor. One of the exemptions for the statute, though, is for "medical treatment". The mask mandate was issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as health officials say wearing a mask is a way to help prevent the spread of the virus. The lawsuit, however, argues the mask mandate does not fit "the common understanding of a 'medical treatment' to satisfy the exemption."

The lawsuit claims this statute and the mask mandate conflict with one another and voters could be criminally prosecuted for both wearing and not wearing a mask when they vote in-person at a polling place.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon is also being sued in the lawsuit. While his office did not want to comment amid pending litigation, officials shared the protocol regarding masks at polling places on Election Day. Poll workers will advise voters of the mandate and offer disposable masks. If a voter does not want to wear one, they will still be allowed to vote. They will be encouraged to use curbside voting, which is most often used by voters who have mobility concerns. If the voter does not want to do curbside voting, they will still be allowed to vote, but they will be recorded as being in violation of the mask mandate.