With just 41 days until the presidential election, things are heating up.
Clint and Stacy, hosts of “What Not to Wear,” won’t be on patrol around polling places issuing citations, but the latest rumor that has been hitting inboxes says that it is unlawful to wear “campaign materials” i.e., buttons, t-shirts, or anything supporting a particular party or candidate, to the polling place. While everyone can appreciate an interesting rumor or good conspiracy theory every now and then, when it comes to civic engagement, it’s important to know the facts and do the research.
As if that’s not enough just hours ago Sen. John McCain announced that he’s suspending his campaign and heading to Washington to focus on the banking crisis. Sen. Barack Obama refused to call off his campaign declaring that the American people need to hear where the candidates stand.
It’s difficult to definitively say what is and is not legal when it comes to voting rights because rules and regulations vary by state and sometimes even by county. That’s why it is imperative to learn your state and county’s electoral procedures. The Election Assistance Commission offers state-by-state guidelines and resources for citizens.
This particular email is referring to “passive electioneering,” the wearing of anything that shows support for a candidate, party or issue within or next to polling places. Members of the Pennsylvania GOP are seeking to pass a ban. But this is not sweeping legislation, heck, it hasn’t even been passed in Pennsylvania.
So before you flip your Obama or McCain t-shirt inside out or forward another email, check with your secretary of state’s Web site or the EAC to find out the rules in your county.
Here’s the text of one of the emails that showed up in my inbox today:
One of my friends will be working the polls on Election Day and provided the following information…
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE ADVISE EVERYONE YOU KNOW THAT THEY ABSOLUTELY CAN NOT GO TO THE VOTING POLLS WEARING ANY OBAMA SHIRTS, PINS OR HATS — IT IS AGAINST THE LAW AND WILL BE GROUNDS TO HAVE THE POLLING OFFICIALS TO TURN YOU AWAY.
THAT IS CONSIDERED CAMPAIGNING AND NO ONE CAN CAMPAIGN WITHIN X AMOUNT OF FEET TO THE POLLS.
THEY ARE BANKING ON PEOPLE BEING EXCITED AND BEING UNAWARE OF THIS LONG-STANDING LAW THAT WILL SURELY BE ENFORCED THIS YEAR!
THEY ARE ALSO BANKING ON THE IDEA THAT IF YOU ARE TURNED AWAY YOU WILL GO HOME AND NOT CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES.
PLEASE JUST DON’T WEAR OBAMA GEAR OF ANY SORTS TO THE POLLS!!
PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION!
Renita Burns is the editorial assistant for BlackEnterprise.com.