A man who refused to wear a face mask at an early voting site in Maryland was arrested Tuesday and faces misdemeanor charges, officials say.
Daniel Swain, 52, was charged with trespassing and failure to comply with a health emergency after an incident in Jarrettsville, about 30 miles northeast of Baltimore.
Harford County sheriff’s deputies were called to the early voting site at the Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Company at about 2:45 p.m. Tuesday, the sheriff’s office said in a social media post. Election officials said Swain, of Fallston, and another man refused to wear face masks or vote in a designated area for people who are unable or unwilling to wear masks.
Election officials then asked the men to leave but they refused to do that either.
Deputies worked to resolve the situation for almost 30 minutes, the sheriff’s office said. One man left but “Swain made the choice to continue to refuse to comply directives given by the election judge.”
“When it was clear there were no other options,” Swain was arrested and taken to the county jail, the sheriff’s office said.
Swain waived his right to an attorney at his initial appearance, online court records say.
Polling sites are subject to rules set by the Board of Elections and Gov. Larry Hogan. Election judges may choose to have someone removed from a polling place, the sheriff’s office said. Swain was not banned from the polling site and is still able to cast his ballot.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the county sheriff generally has instructed deputies to “handle reported mask violations through education,” rather than making arrests or issuing criminal citations, the sheriff's office said.
Voters in line at the Jarrettsville polling site told WBAL-TV that it’s easy to wear a mask.
“You’re supposed to wear a mask to keep people from being sick. Wear the damn thing and be done with it,” voter Bob Baumgartner told the station.
The governor was asked about the incident at an appearance later Tuesday. He said he was unaware of the arrest but urged voters and all residents to wear face masks, The Baltimore Sun reported.
“The state and county boards of elections have been very careful about trying to keep people protected,” Hogan said. “The pandemic is spiking out of control at this point in states across America. Our numbers are even starting to slightly rise. We’re very concerned about the spread, so I’m sure that was a decision that the local board of elections and the local law enforcement made.”
Later, Hogan added: “89% of the people in Maryland agree with us that you should be wearing masks, social distancing, washing your hands frequently and following the public health guidance. The people who don’t are endangering themselves and their family members and their neighbors.”
Maryland is seeing an increase in coronavirus cases. The rolling seven-day average of cases was 714 on Tuesday — the highest it’s been since mid-August.
Swain was released without bail. He’s due in court in December.