»Read the full legal DeKalb GOP letter at the bottom of this story.
The letter was drafted by the Bernard & Johnson law firm in Dunwoody, and it cited Georgia code that would appear to ban face masks from being worn on government property.
The law states, “A person is guilty of a misdemeanor when he wears a mask, hood, or device by which any portion of the face is hidden, concealed, or covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer and is upon any public way or public property...” The letter added that the law was enacted to prevent racial and ethnic minorities from being intimidated by masked individuals while voting.
The letter acknowledged that Governor Brian Kemp’s 2020 emergency order suspended this clause from being enforced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, that emergency order expired on July 1, 2021.
“Therefore, there is no legal authority that would even debatably allow a county ordinance, or directive of the Board of Elections, to force volunteer citizens to violate a state law which, by its plain meaning, prohibits masking on public property (where voting will take place),” the letter continued.
The letter is in response to a directive given Friday by DeKalb elections Director Keisha Smith, who wrote DeKalb GOP Chair Marci McCarthy to say that face coverings will still be required. Smith cited the county’s face covering ordinance, which remains in effect — but includes a “conscientious objector” clause. Mask mandates have been dropped by most other local governments.
John Jackson, the chairman for DeKalb Democrats, told the AJC the threat of legal action is just to rile up conservative voters.
“We have real issues to address in DeKalb County and throughout Georgia,” he said. “It’s a shame that the DeKalb GOP is wasting everyone’s time with these theatrics to impress the Republican base.”