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Maryland man arrested, accused of refusing to wear mask at polling place, sheriff says

Daniel Swain was charged with trespassing after he refused to wear a mask at a voting site and refused to use the area for nonmasked voters, authorities said.
Image: Early voting in Maryland
People line up outside a polling station at the McFaul Activity Center in Bel Air, Md., during early voting on Tuesday.Hannah McKay / Reuters

A Maryland man faces charges after he refused to wear a mask at an early voting site even though election workers and law enforcement officials asked him to put on a mask or leave, authorities said.

The man, Daniel Swain, 52, was charged Monday with violation of the governor's orders and trespassing after refusing to leave a voting site or comply with the location's mask policy, the Harford County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan expanded the state's mask order in July, requiring face coverings in most indoor locations, and made violation of the order a misdemeanor.

Deputies were told that the Harford County Board of Elections had a designated area for voters who were unable or unwilling to wear masks but that Swain and another man refused to vote in that area.

Two election officials asked the men to leave and called for assistance after the men were declared to be trespassing, according to the sheriff's office.

"Deputies worked to resolve the situation for nearly 30 minutes," the sheriff's office said. "At that time, one man complied and left the premises; however, Mr. Swain made the choice to continue to refuse to comply directives given by the Election Judge."

When Swain refused to leave, he was arrested and transported to the Harford County Detention Center. He is not banned from the location and is allowed to return to cast his ballot, the sheriff's office said.

"While the polls are open to the public, they are subject to compliance with the rules and regulations set forth by the Board of Elections and the Governor of Maryland," the sheriff's office said.

Swain is alleged to have told officers that the request that he wear a mask was "unconstitutional," according to a police report obtained by The Baltimore Sun. Swain recently retired as a captain with the Baltimore County Department of Corrections, the newspaper reported.

A phone call and an email requesting comment from Swain were not immediately returned Wednesday. Court records show that Swain waived his right to an attorney at his initial appearance and that his next court date is scheduled for Dec. 4.

The Harford County Board of Elections said in a statement Tuesday that it has made every effort to afford all eligible voters their right to cast a ballot.

"At the same time, we must protect the health of our citizens and the election staff by following Governor Hogan's directives and the guidance of the Maryland State Board of Elections," the statement said. "Our goal is always a safe, fair and successful election."