I don’t know what the laws are in other states, but in Michigan candidates and campaign material can’t be at closer than 100 feet from any entrance to a polling place. This includes clothing, hats, and buttons. That law is being challenged.
A federal judge has promised to rule within two days on whether Michigan’s ban on wearing campaign T-shirts and buttons inside polling places should be upheld.
U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan heard oral arguments in the case on Monday. The lawsuit was brought this month by Council 25 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees against Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and state elections director Chris Thomas.
AFSCME attorney Herbert Sanders said the ban oppresses voters’ right to freedom of expression and abridges their right to vote free from intimidation.
“This is going to create a significant disruption in one of the largest elections ever in the history of the country,” he told the judge.
Sanders also called it a “pretext for discrimination,” arguing election officials will arbitrarily enforce the law, which he said has historically led to unequal treatment of minorities.
I’m not sure how not allowing any political T-shirts hurts freedom from intimidation. I think that allowing political t-shirts may threaten freedom from intimidation, not the other way around.
And I guess I’d have to see some evidence that minorities have been treated unfairly over this. Even if they have been, the answer is not to abolish the rule but to enforce it equally.
I recall a comment threat on with one-time MO reader MarinesGirl who lived in the Detroit area and was telling how she was dressing her son up in all sorts of John Kerry stuff to go down and hang out at the polling station on election day, 2004. I emailed her to remind her not to get closer than 100 feet lest they get in trouble. She responded that it was sweet of me to worry, but they had no problem hanging out there for hours talking with people in line about Kerry and how much George Bush sucked and telling jokes and stuff inside the polling station and that no one cared or minded.