Tuesday, September 30, 2008

To wear Obama gear to the booth or not ; vote challengers

There are websites offering differing positions on Obama gear.
Do voters face being barred from the voting booth because they are wearing Obama gear?
Some sites alert voters that they will be barred from voting because the shirts and hats will be conflated with electioneering. They cite state laws against electioneering near voting sites.
From The NYCity News Service:

An obscure, seldom-enforced state law bars anyone from wearing political buttons and other campaign paraphernalia within “a 100-foot radial measured from the entrances of the voting booth.”

With the election just over a month away, the law is suddenly gaining notice: an email begging potential Obama voters to “PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE” leave T-shirts and buttons home on Election Day is circulating on the Internet – spurring worried calls and emails to state election officials. The New York Civil Liberties Union plans – for the first time – to include a similar warning in its voter information materials.

Meanwhile, Republican leaders in Pennsylvania are calling on officials to enforce that state’s similar “passive electioneering” law banning campaign paraphernalia at the polls, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sept. 19.

In New York, election officials said they would stick to the law even as they tried to downplay concerns.

Other sites, such as this one by the North Carolina Democratic Party, are dismissing these rumors as "urban legends."
I would err on the side of caution. As Joshing Politics said, the laws against electioneering cannot be changed by election day. The Republicans will be on overdrive this year, challenging voters from every possible angle. Voters cannot risk doing anything that will cause them to lose their voting right on election day. This risk will be great in swing states such as Ohio and Virginia.

PBS' "Now" with David Brancaccio broadcasted a report of Republican individual that aggressively challenged voters' credentials at several sites on one election day.
The vote challenge efforts amount to voter intimidation; this is effectual disenfranchisment. We should oppose their efforts steadfastly. In the meantime, play it safe and hide your Obama gear when in the booth.

1 comment:

texrednface said...

My Mom has worked the polls in Texas for over twenty-five years with the same election judge. While the judge is a staunch republican, she enforces Texas electioneering laws even handedly. Mom says she has even kicked someone out with a newspaper showing a headline with a candidate's name. Use good judgment, don't advertise your candidate.