Deputies assigned to the Northern Precinct were called to the Jarrettsville Volunteer Fire Company after election officials say they asked two men, who were not wearing masks to protect against spreading COVID-19, to move to an area designated for maskless voters but they refused.
Election officials asked the two men to leave the location, but they again resisted and were subsequently considered trespassers, the Harford County Sherriff’s Office said in a statement.
“Polling places are under the supervision and purview of the of the Board of Elections, and as such, an Election Judge can opt to remove a person from the polling place,” police said.
Gov. Larry Hogan issued a state of emergency in March mandating masks be worn in public, but the Harford County Board of Elections had set up a specific area for voters who are unable or unwilling to wear a mask while exercising their right to vote.
Deputies tried to resolve the situation for nearly 30 minutes, and one of the men eventually left the site, while another, Daniel Swain, 52, continued to resist officers.
“When it was clear there were no other options, Mr. Swain was placed under arrest for the trespassing violation and the Office of the Harford County State’s Attorney was contacted and advised to charge Mr. Swain for a violation of the Governor’s orders in addition to the trespassing charge,” police said.
The sheriff’s office said Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler “has been very clear that deputies would handle reported mask violations through education and would not be making arrests or issuing criminal citations solely for refusing to follow the Governors’ order on wearing masks.”
“However; if a private property owner, store manager, or in this case, Election Official needed assistance in having a person vacate a premise, we would enforce a trespassing violation,” the office added.
Still, authorities said that despite his arrest, Swain was not banned from the polling location and will still be allowed to cast his ballot.