A federal judge ruled that Texas’s mask mandate must be applied to polling places, invalidating an order from the state's Gov. Greg Abbott that set out an exception.
Abbott's executive order stated that anyone “voting, assisting a voter, serving as a poll watcher, or actively administering an election” was immune to the statewide mask mandate.
In his temporary ruling, U.S. District Judge Jason Pulliam claimed that the exception violated the Voting Rights Act, and creates a “discriminatory burden on Black and Latino voters.”
Black and Latino people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed 227,000 in the United States.
Pulliam, a Trump appointee, wrote that the mask requirement would not prevent people from voting. Texas is appealing the ruling.
An estimated 8 million people already voted in the Lone Star State. Early voting began in Texas three weeks ago and ends Friday.
Chris Hollins, the clerk for Harris County, praised the ruling in an interview with The Associated Press. Hollins said the county would continue to accommodate all voters while encouraging everyone to wear a mask.
Mi Familia Vota and the Texas chapter of the NAACP filed the lawsuit.