State Capitol News
10:54 am
Tue March 13, 2012

AZ Senate Panel Votes to Ease Electioneering Rules

The next time you go to the polls, you should be free to wear that T-shirt with a Democratic donkey or even those Republican elephant earrings. 

Current law prohibits electioneering materials inside or immediately adjacent to polling places. That law resulted several years ago in a Coconino County election worker telling a 55-year-old Flagstaff woman she could not vote while wearing a T-shirt that said Flagstaff Tea Party, Reclaiming Our Constitution Now. That case was eventually resolved after a lawsuit was filed. But Clint Bolick of the Goldwater Institute told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday the problem is that the law gives a great deal of discretion to those staffing the polls to decide what clothing is and is not acceptable.

"Not just the Don't Tread on Me symbol," said Bolick, "but other symbols as well, wearing a green T-shirt or a Planned Parenthood shirt or elephant earrings, these were all within the subjective discretion of voting officials."

The new version of the law approved by the panel would narrow the definition of prohibited conduct.

"So long as voters are not active aggressively to convince other voters, their apparel is up to them," he said.

But Bolick said the wording of the bill goes beyond the examples he gave and would even allow someone  to show up -- and vote -- while wearing a pin touting the presidential candidate of his or her choice. The bill now goes to the full Senate.