Election day dress code (may be) enforced

Could a t-shirt cost you the right to vote?  Well, maybe.  It depends on your polling place.  E-mails have been circulating about in such a manner as the Nigerian money scam, making internet-savvy folks skeptical about the assertion that their “Geezer/Dingbat” shirt could possibly cost them entry to their polling place.

But it’s true in some places.  Here’s the deal:


Spare The Flair from CafePress on Vimeo.

Now, some call it “electioneering” and some call it “passive electioneering,” which makes slightly more sense given that the actual definition of “electioneering” tells us that it’s to work actively for a campaign or political party.  And it’s a stretch to consider a wardrobe choice to be an activity – because unless you’re a nudist, getting dressed is something we all have to do every day, regardless of political involvement.

First Amendment pundits have been pondering whether these kinds of restrictions conflict with our right to Free Speech, with some local Judges making last-minute determinations on the matter.

What’ll happen in your local polling place is a question for your local officials.  So please, pass the above PSA along, inform your friends and remember:

On November 4th, SPARE THE FLAIR!

28 Comments
  1. Spare the Flair is exactly correct.

    During the 2004 election I walked into the polls wearing a T-shirt purchased on Cafe Press that read, “Bush lied and soldiers died!”. Things went great UNTIL I stepped in front of the one poll worker that was a known Republican. Known because she had a Republican campaign sign in the front yard of her home!

    I was immediately pulled out of the line of voters, publicly humiliated, and forced to wear another poll workers too small ladies jacket buttoned up in order to conceal the entire slogan on my shirt.

    I explained as a disabled US Navy veteran that had fought for our country I was just voicing my 1st Amendment rights. I was still treated as a common criminal and humiliated in order to cast my ballot.

  2. I live in Evansville. Indiana. I have already voted. Hope all the states will allow early voting in the future. It is very convenient. Did not see anyone with campaign shirts on but I did see a long line of working class people patiently waiting to vote early.

  3. In Texas it is a violation of the election code to display or distribute campaign material, including wearables, within 100 ft of the entrance of a polling place (you may bring a voter guide, list, etc. for your own use). A few years ago, during the bond election for the new Dallas Cowboys stadium, no one was allowed to wear anything with the Cowboys name or logo into the polling places that were voting on the bond. Some locations did loan cover-up jackets to those who came wearing the banned blue star.

  4. It is a law in many states that you cannot wear any political attire including buttons or otherwise to polling places – this is to prevent politicians from hiring people covering them like walking ads and bombarding/intimidating the people as they approach to vote….

  5. I wonder if wearing red, white and blue or a flag lapel pin would be considered out of line ?

    “Patriotic” has become a dirty word and is actually offensive to some people.

    I’m happy to refer to myself as a Patriot.

    God Bless America … Warts and all !

  6. Funny how people get fired up about laws that actually makes sense. Imagine walking into a polling station and everyone was wearing “XXX for President”. You’re in the minority and want “YYY for President”. You’re scared and intimidated. You leave. You didn’t vote. Or you didn’t vote your conscience based on fear.

    This intimidation plays out in countries all around the world. Sometimes it’s a button or t-shirt, other times it’s a gun.

    There are reasons for these laws. Insuring the unfettered political process, we as Americans have fought for, is the cornerstone of many of these laws.

    Leave the trite t-shirts and bitter bile at home. Be heard through your vote.

  7. Even though I’m not going to vote for Blowbama, I feel it would be wrong to wear an antisocialist tee-shirt to the polls on election day.

  8. I agree that there is good reason for this restriction at a polling place. Often emotions run strong & a confrontation could be incited. I TOO WILL SPEAK WITH MY VOTE! Up till now I have ENJOYED wearing a big button that says Palin/McCain, stickers on our car and a modest yardsign.this is not done in my community by either side. That’s not my style. THANKS for the cautioning about possible poll restrictions.

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  12. I think our right to free speech should be held as sacred, any infringement on that should be fought with all due passion. I feel bad that we tell our soldiers that they are fighting for our freedoms, yet while they are away they’ve been being eroded.

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  14. Speaking as a soldier, who has been away fighting for these American freedoms: They aren’t eroding.
    Remember that while we have freedoms, they come with responsibilities. Freedom of speech doesn’t cover lying in a court of law. Freedom to bear arms, too: Not in a courthouse or other federal installation.

    These safeguards are just that. It isn’t a suspension of freedoms, or an erosion of liberties. Use some common sense and a bit of self restraint, folks. Don’t get all worked up when someone tells you “No” on occasion. Your rights aren’t always being trampled. Someone else’s may be taken into consideration.

    Look at most of the politicians who want to regulate everything (Liberals). Their followers are the ones who profess anarchy. Ironic.

  15. Just don’t take the chance to lose your vote to a randomly enforced and subjective technicality. By the way, I’m sorry I spent my hard-earned dollars purchasing my Obama shirt from an obviously pro-McCain site.

  16. Someone who is running in this election and has as lot more money than he should legally have, would like nothing better than to muffle our free speech, at least the free speech that goes against him. After all he pays for his speech. Let’s protect the freedoms that we have and fight to keep them. Beth, a Republican in Texas

  17. And what about bumper stickers on cars???
    From our county’s website ( http://www.kingcounty.gov/elections/news/2008/August/25_electioneering.aspx )
    Electioneering banned near polling locations on Election Day
    “King County reminds the public that any signs advocating passage or defeat of a measure or candidate are prohibited within 300 feet of all polling locations on election day. Poll workers are authorized to remove signs and the public is urged to report any violations.”

    Does that mean that anyone parking their car with an Obama, McCain, Nader or whatever bumper sticker could be towed for “electioneering???”

  18. There is no (maybe) about it – I’ve been on the inside of too many political campaigns not to know this for a fact.

    You will be turned away if you are displaying ANY political items – tee shirts, buttons, stickers, palm cards, etc.

    Make sure you’re permitted your Constitutiional Right to Vote

  19. I agree with these rules. Polling places should be as close to 100% neutral as possible. Voting is for grown-ups, not immature children that can’t even muster the respect to keep their beliefs private for a few hours. What’s important is making an informed decision on who to vote for, and marking the ballot accordingly. Not every event in life has to be conducted like a street party. It’s a shame that we even need rules like this, since it should be obvious to everyone. It’s just a matter of respect.

  20. I think it would have been really nice/smart if in the video CP would have told people to wear other CP shirts instead of saying a tuxedo. A very nice penguin shirt, or a baseball shirt, or, at least for California, an patriotic, but non political shirt.
    As a poll worker in California, when I can, I can tell you that yes red, white and blue is acceptable. Poll workers in my county are encouraged to wear flag pins and/or patriotic colors on election day. I don’t know if my county considers wearing political opinions as electioneering. I know that I understand the limits. I am guessing that most parking is actually beyond our 100 foot distance, so bumper stickers would not be considered a issue.

  21. I just spoke with the Indiana Election Commission, and they have said that while “electioneering” is a misdemeanor offense, a person cannot be turned away from the polls for wearing clothing that endorses a candidate. The person can be reported to the prosecutors office, but the person must be allowed to vote.

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