A Maryland man was arrested this week for refusing to wear a mask at an early voting site, and is now suing — claiming his right to vote was illegally suppressed.
Daniel Swain, 52, of Fallston, was charged Monday with trespassing and failing to comply with a health emergency after he and his 22-year-old son balked several times to put on masks at a voting center, according to charging documents cited by the Baltimore Sun.
Police and election officials said the pair was offered a chance to vote safely outside, but the elder Swain told responding duties that request was “unconstitutional” while claiming Maryland law allowed him to vote indoors without a mask, charging documents show.
Swain’s lawsuit, which was filed Tuesday in Harford County Circuit Court, seeks a temporary restraining order against the Harford County Board of Elections, its acting director, Harford County Sheriff Jeffery Gahler and the Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Company, which hosted the voting center, the Baltimore Sun reported.
“A statewide injunction forbidding any election official or law enforcement from interfering with any voter’s right to vote by forcing them to cover their faces with a covering or mask of some sort must be immediately issued,” according to the lawsuit, which also seeks “Constitutional voting rights” training for election officials and sheriff’s deputies.
Swain, a retired correctional officer, told the Washington Post he felt “disenfranchised” after his arrest, claiming he was only told to wear a mask once inside the polling place and after presenting his voter registration card showing he’s a Republican.
“I found it odd,” Swain told the newspaper. “I had been there quite some time … in full view of everyone in the room and nobody said anything until that point.”
Swain’s son was also not allowed to vote without putting on a mask, but he “complied and left the premises,” sheriff officials noted Tuesday.
Gov. Larry Hogan signed an executive order this summer requiring polling places to adhere to public health guidance ordering masks to be worn in all public places, the Washington Post reported.
The county’s executive, meanwhile, said Swain’s lawsuit seemed frivolous since he had the option to vote but decided against doing so.
“It appears to me the whole intention was to create a legal situation,” Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, a Republican, told the Washington Post. “It’s unfortunate because everybody is just trying to do their jobs and follow the rules that are laid out statewide.”
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