But the irony is that a lax approach to a mask requirement for voting is not necessary—not even politically.
That’s the surprising finding of new survey data from a study we conducted in August. Americans’ support of a requirement to wear masks at the polls, social distancing and sanitization practices is considerable regardless of party loyalty—even if it means those measures will increase lines and wait times.
Our representative nationwide survey found that 79 percent of respondents favor a mask requirement for polling places. Republicans were slightly less likely to favor masks, at 78 percent, compared with 83 percent for Democrats. But both are higher than the overall percentage of Americans (72 percent) who support a general mask mandate. Almost as many of our respondents, 74 percent, favor social distancing at the polls. And two-thirds believe election workers should sanitize voting equipment after each use. We also asked about whether states should provide a phone check-in option or appointment-based voting, though those measures had less support. Overall, a clear majority of our survey takers support at least three safety measures, even if they must wait a little longer to vote because of them.