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What attire can I wear to the polls on election day?
October 6, 2008 10:26 AM   Subscribe

A dress code at the polls? Many states have 'electioneering' laws in place that can be broadly interpreted to mean that clothing with political messages is not allowed. Snopes put a page up advising voters to check with their board of elections. Some election officials have released statements attempting to clarify [pdf] the enforcement of their state's electioneering laws, though those statements aren't legally binding. Other election officials are suing to keep the broad definition of electioneering in place. If rules are interpreted to include campaign shirts and buttons, you will likely need to cover the item up, remove it, or otherwise conceal it.

With so many new voters, folks who have relocated, differences between the primaries and the general election and rules in flux in many states, I removed the state-by-state listing I originally began constructing in favor of having this post be a place where people can add the most recent state-specific updates as they become available. Reference - 2006 document [pdf] linked from Snopes page with state-by-state information.
posted by cashman (55 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
What a great commercial for mail-in voting.
posted by mullingitover at 10:29 AM on October 6, 2008


Clearly anyone dressing "too Urban" is "in the tank" for Obama and attempting to intimidate god-fearing hard working folks.
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on October 6, 2008


So red and blue are definitely out this November?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:33 AM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Kufis are a definite fashion faux pas this election season. Just be sure to wear your McCain/Palin trucker hat, meshback shirt and leather hot pants when strutting into the voting booth. Honey, pull that lever!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:39 AM on October 6, 2008


<naive>It's almost as if they don't want people to vote.</naive>
posted by adipocere at 10:40 AM on October 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Since the number of anti-administration t-shirts, buttons and such seems to outnumber pro-administration ones on my streets by about 30-to-1, this seems like the sort of statistically sound thing the folks in power should be pursuing.
posted by rokusan at 10:40 AM on October 6, 2008


Does this mean Obama can't vote? I've seen that face on a million campaign posters!

This is ridiculous, but universal suffrage was never our strong point. I wanted to make a dramatic statement about the Bill of Rights but everything I can come up with sounds very passe.
posted by polyhedron at 10:52 AM on October 6, 2008


I know in Canada, a party's scrutineer can't wear any colour linked to a major party. So they can't wear red, blue, green, or orange.

However, that's only the scrutineers, I'm pretty sure other people can wear whatever they want. Interesting.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:56 AM on October 6, 2008


No problem for me--I traditionally vote in the nude.
posted by DU at 10:56 AM on October 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


It's like the TSA asking me to take off my pullover hoodie at the airport (at 6:30 a.m.) when I wasn't wearing anything underneath... I was tempted for about 3 seconds to do it anyway: "Hey, you TOLD ME TO!"

So, everyone, let's vote braless this year.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 10:59 AM on October 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


That's hot, DU.
posted by Mister_A at 10:59 AM on October 6, 2008


No problem for me--I traditionally vote in the nude.

I hope those touchscreens come with sani-wipes.
posted by rokusan at 10:59 AM on October 6, 2008


OK, no shirts/buttons/dickeys/whatever with political messages... what if you say "VOTE FOR OBAMA" over and over the entire time you're at the polling place?
posted by Ron Thanagar at 11:07 AM on October 6, 2008


All kidding aside, I have to say there's some validity to this within reason. I've seen campaigners/supporters do things like drive laps through the area around the polling place with their vehicle festooned with the logo of their candidate of choice. If you want the polling area to be a no-campaign zone, I see nothing wrong with that, per se, so long as you're not going to unreasonable lengths, like asking people to avoid wearing certain colors. Or even moose-antler baseball caps, which make you laugh, and make you think.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:08 AM on October 6, 2008


Oh, come on. Do you need to wear your "Candidate X rulz" T-shirt to the polling station? Is that truly an infringement on your rights to be asked to cover it up while you're in the polling station? When you consider the alternative is hordes of hirelings sporting "Candidate Y rulz" wandering throughout the polling station demanding to know why you're not wearing one of their shirts, surely this is one case where a little bit of discretion leads to a much better result.

Having worked in several elections, can I just say nude voting is one of those ideas that sounds great in practice, but would be very disappointing on execution.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:08 AM on October 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Do you need to wear your "Candidate X rulz" T-shirt to the polling station?

I’m not sure this rule is for the benefit of those aware of the rule.
posted by Artw at 11:10 AM on October 6, 2008


No problem for me--I traditionally vote in the nude.

'Scuse me while I step into this booth and "pull the lever/punch through the hole/touch the screen" for the candidate of my choice!

Wait - I vote by mail...

'Scuse me while I sit down at the counter and "Completely fill in the oval to the right of the candidate's name."

Man. Voting by mail just isn't as sexy.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:14 AM on October 6, 2008


I know in Canada, a party's scrutineer can't wear any colour linked to a major party. So they can't wear red, blue, green, or orange.

However, that's only the scrutineers, I'm pretty sure other people can wear whatever they want. Interesting.


No one is allowed to enter a polling station or be on the property of the polling station wearing any party affiliated buttons or apparel, or carrying any party literature. This includes the poll staff, candidates & their reps, and electors (voters). Wearing party colours as an elector can get you denied entry or kicked out, if it's weirdly overt. Candidates and their reps wear an Elections Canada provided name badge, which is plain white with black lettering, indicating their name & party.
posted by zarah at 11:24 AM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


All kidding aside, I have to say there's some validity to this within reason.

Oh, there's totally validity to this and various "no campaigning within X feet restrictions." I can easily imagine all sorts of intimidation and shenanigans going on at a polling place that these laws are intended to blunt. I'm surprised there's an outcry over this at all.

Of course, it's all about the on-the-ground execution of the laws. This isn't like, say, a copyright infringement case, where we can arrange compensation after-the-fact. There's only one election day, after all.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:24 AM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


OK, no shirts/buttons/dickeys/whatever with political messages... what if you say "VOTE FOR OBAMA" over and over the entire time you're at the polling place?

A helpful poll worker or police officer will assist you in GTFO.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:26 AM on October 6, 2008


Apparently what I'm wearing
Makes me ineligable to vote;
Is it my Obama t-shirt
Or the peace sign on my coat?
Is it my bumper sticker
That still says vote for Gore?
I wear it on my backpack
Along with patches against the war.
Perhaps it is my tattoo
That I added to my arm;
It's just one word -- hope --
But it's enough to cause alarm.
I asked the election official
And this is what he told:
All those things are fine, but for
the picket sign I hold.
That's the message that's a problem.

Why? It reads:
Fuck Diebold.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:30 AM on October 6, 2008 [21 favorites]


OK, no shirts/buttons/dickeys/whatever with political messages... what if you say "VOTE FOR OBAMA" over and over the entire time you're at the polling place?

A helpful poll worker or police officer will assist you in GTFO.


In some states, this is likely to happen if you even try to silently vote for Obama.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:30 AM on October 6, 2008


Of course, it's all about the on-the-ground execution of the laws.

Literal or metaphorical executions?
posted by Artw at 11:31 AM on October 6, 2008


My polling place is in an elementary school, and the little voting desk things are set up in one part of a large auditorium.

When I went to vote in California's Other Primary (we had two, one for president and one for state stuff, because we're special like that), I was taking my ballot over to a voting desk thing when a few kids, who had been hanging around in the non-polling-place side of the room, leaned over the barrier and whispered "Vote for Obama!"

I laughed my ass off....but I guess I should have reported them? Hmmm.
posted by rtha at 11:32 AM on October 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


No problem for me--I traditionally vote in the nude.

So, um, is it kosher for me to take disinfectant towelettes into the booth and/or don latex gloves before I touch the screen? Just curious, no reason.
posted by FelliniBlank at 11:46 AM on October 6, 2008


No problem for me--I traditionally vote in the nude.

Polling the electorate, natch.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:50 AM on October 6, 2008


A scrutineer is a person who observes voting in an election, and/or observes the counting of ballot papers, in order to check that election rules are followed.

What a great word!
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:55 AM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


No problem for me--I traditionally vote in the nude.

"Ah, I can clearly see that you are a fan of Bush."
posted by Pollomacho at 12:01 PM on October 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Voting by mail must be green. The letter carrier gets paid to be out in the rain/cold/snow, and does not have to pay for his/her gasoline. All the voters' vehicles stay home with their nasty engines turned off.
posted by Cranberry at 12:17 PM on October 6, 2008


So a Bush vampire feeding on Lady Liberty tshirt is still a go?
posted by Tehanu at 12:18 PM on October 6, 2008


A scrutineer is a person who observes voting in an election

They were going to go with the Central Scrutinizer, but apparently that name was taken.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:21 PM on October 6, 2008


No problem for me--I traditionally vote in the nude.

You know there are no glory holes in voting booths, right?

Of course, you might get lucky and have Larry Craig voting in the booth next to yours. Look for "the tap."
posted by pardonyou? at 12:22 PM on October 6, 2008


A dress code at the polls?

Is it okay to wear a barrel with straps?
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:31 PM on October 6, 2008


What luck! I got a message from John McCain! Here is a partial quote:
"Dear Friend,

The RNC Victory 2008 emergency voter registration and get-out-the-vote effort needs your immediate support.

With four weeks until Election Day, I’m counting on our Party’s top supporters like you to help fund these vital programs.

Your generous secure online contribution of $2,000, $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50 or $35 today will go a long way to helping RNC Victory 2008 reach our $50 million goal for October and ensuring our Party has the resources to reach, register and motivate voters who agree with our reform agenda."

Two messages: 1. If you do not have AT LEAST $35.00, you are too poor to be a Republican. 2. John McCain needs to check his campaign mailings against party registrations which are public records.
Google sent the message right to spam :-)
posted by Cranberry at 12:35 PM on October 6, 2008


A scrutineer is a person who observes voting in an election...

I've always loved that word, too, and the way it looks like a leftover from Talk Like a Pirate Day.
posted by rokusan at 12:36 PM on October 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Of course, it's all about the on-the-ground execution of the laws.

Literal or metaphorical executions?


Why don't you get down on the ground and I'll show you?

ZING! ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:46 PM on October 6, 2008


Maryland has an an answer to this in their rumor section. Answer: wear what you want as long as you're not an election judge, challenger, or watcher.
posted by Tehanu at 12:55 PM on October 6, 2008


I can see where this come from. In Mexico, one of the crudest forms of fraud consisted (it seems to be less common now) of some big ugly off duty policemen, soldiers or "private security" paramilitaries standing around the polling station, with the bulges of their weapons very conspicuous under their party t-shirts. It makes it very easy to figure out who to vote for if you have not been following the debates, vote for the guy on the t-shirt over the guns and the muscle.

Electoral fraud was so rampant for so long, that the methods made it into the vernacular with names like "Ratón Loco", "Carrusel", "Urna Embarazada", "Operación Tamal", "Alquimistas", "Urna Madrugadora", "Urna Caminante", "Palomeo", "Tacos de Votos", "Voto Relampago" and "Tortuguismo". I love to see the U.S. making cultural imports from Mexico.
posted by dirty lies at 1:30 PM on October 6, 2008


I was planning on wearing an Obama/Biden shirt, a Veterans For Obama button, an Obama mask, and some dark shades (so I can do my Ray Charles impression with the mask on). Looks like my state allows all of that -- although I imagine I'll have to remove the mask at some point.
posted by jamstigator at 1:40 PM on October 6, 2008


So does that mean that Obama isn't allowed within 50 feet of a voting booth, since he's the symbol of his own campaign?
posted by blue_beetle at 1:51 PM on October 6, 2008


I know in Canada, a party's scrutineer can't wear any colour linked to a major party

Can the scrutineers wear boutonnieres?
posted by kirkaracha at 1:58 PM on October 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, just flag pins.
posted by ryanrs at 2:07 PM on October 6, 2008


Cranberry, I got that e-mail, too. If you check the originating e-mail address, it's pretty clear why it got kicked to the spam folder: It's a scam.

...on second thought, maybe it is a legit GOP e-mail.
posted by phatkitten at 2:16 PM on October 6, 2008


(for Astro Zombie)

I hear you can't wear gear to the polls
too much influence on others, I'm told -
that they'll deploy scrutineers to allay all our fears
of a system that's corrupted and old

Methinks I'll have to go incognito
to symbolically say Obama is neato
and hope that old Diebold
won't cheat me and veto

So I guess the only way to voice my concern
is to dress up in what's left of the money I earn
I mean - after the Bailout and the war
what good's money for?

and if approached in the booth by Whomever
who's beliefs on poll attire are too clever
When they say, "please disrobe of your dollars
for it's not what we called for!
I'll look sheepish and say
"Sorry, Mac, it's all I got on me!"
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 2:20 PM on October 6, 2008


So does that mean that Obama isn't allowed within 50 feet of a voting booth, since he's the symbol of his own campaign?

Concurrently, the same applies to McCain and banks.
posted by dhartung at 2:28 PM on October 6, 2008


This is certainly not new. In 1992, my buddy plastered a Clinton/Gore bumper sticker on the back of his shirt just before walking into the polling place, and the nice little old ladies who were running the booths made him cover it up with his jacket before allowing him inside. It wasn't a big deal at the time, but I suppose some less-ethical election officials could pull some shenanigans, like telling people who are caught wearing Obama T-shirts into the polling station that they are now disqualified from voting, or something. That sucks.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:37 PM on October 6, 2008


I wore a Kerry/Edwards pin on my hat to the polling place in 04. The election lady just told me it wasn't allowed inside. I just took it off and it wasn't a big deal.
posted by kuhsay at 2:49 PM on October 6, 2008


"Oh, come on. Do you need to wear your "Candidate X rulz" T-shirt to the polling station? Is that truly an infringement on your rights to be asked to cover it up while you're in the polling station?"

If I see a "Candidate X Rulz" t-shirt, I'm totally changing my vote to candidate x. Since he would indeed, then, rule. I believe any 'X' person, in anything, rulz, even over the traditionally heroic personage.
I'm thinking Racer X here.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:32 PM on October 6, 2008


I’m not sure how likely these regulations are to affect the behaviors of the voting public, or if they will even be enforced, but just in case they are… I plan (and hope to get others) to bring a few big white t-shirts to our voting facilities and hang out in the area for a while. Anyone wearing candidate paraphernalia could throw the tees on over their clothes, instead of having to deal with changing, unpinning, or in other ways defestooning themselves.

I dunno—the right person in the right mood, might be discouraged from voting upon being informed that their clothing was “illegal.”
posted by TG_Plackenfatz at 7:56 PM on October 6, 2008


Here in Australia I was one of those annoying people who stands outside the polling place and hands out material in support of a political party. As I was not a scrutineer (we use that word too) I could wear whatever I wanted, but had to remove any slogans within the mandated distance (can't remember what it was) where all party advertising can't cross.

We had a lot of people rock up wearing their Kevin07 (in support of Kevin Rudd who became PM) t-shirts. I just loaned them a jacket I had brought along and all was well. No big deal.
posted by Megami at 9:15 PM on October 6, 2008


but had to remove any slogans within the mandated distance (can't remember what it was) where all party advertising can't cross.

6m from the entrance to the polling place IIRC. The head scrutineer should mark it out for you.

I personally like electioneering laws. I don't believe politics have any place in the polling booth.
posted by Talez at 9:24 PM on October 6, 2008


Talez, that might have been it, I thought I remembered it as being more. But yes, they policed it!
posted by Megami at 5:11 AM on October 7, 2008


rokusan: I've always loved that word, too, and the way it looks like a leftover from Talk Like a Pirate Day.

The word 'scrutineer' is also in common motorsport usage to describe technical inspectors. [The more you know...]
posted by workerant at 12:25 PM on October 7, 2008


I don't get why people have any problem with this. Don't wear your campaign paraphernalia to the voting place, or at least cover it up.

If poll workers are saying stupid things, as they sometimes do, that's a completely separate issue from laws forbidding electioneering within x feet of a polling place.

If you want to talk about stupid voting laws, talk about states that don't allow liquor stores to be open on election days.
posted by wierdo at 11:33 AM on October 10, 2008


WTF? Well I better stock up since if it’s stupid and it’s a law to do with booze then Washington State almost certainly has it.
posted by Artw at 11:56 AM on October 10, 2008


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