Committee votes to repeal laws banning display of 'electioneering materials' at polls - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Committee votes to repeal laws banning display of 'electioneering materials' at polls

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Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2012 12:39 pm

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

You won’t be sent home — at least not because of your attire.

Without dissent, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted Monday to repeal existing laws which prohibit the display of “electioneering materials” inside or immediately adjacent to polling places. HB 2722, which already has been approved by the House, now goes to the full Senate.

The legislation is the direct outgrowth of a spat in Flagstaff where a Coconino County election worker told a 55-year-old woman she could not vote while wearing a T-shirt that said, “Flagstaff Tea Party — Reclaiming Our Constitution Now.” While that dispute eventually was resolved after a lawsuit was filed, it left questions about what is or is not legally acceptable.

Clint Bolick, an attorney for the Goldwater Institute, said the language in the statute would bring into question a variety of apparel that might be considered by a poll worker to be designed to influence an election. He said that gives them discretion to turn away someone wearing a shirt with a Planned Parenthood logo, a shirt that simply is green — connoting environmental concerns — or even earrings with a party mascot.

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

In fact, Bolick said, the measure would allow a voter to show up at the polls with more clear indications of his or her intent. And that, said Bolick, is not limited to wearing a pin for a candidate.

“You could dress head to toe in an Obama jumpsuit and walk into the polls,” he said.

Only election workers could not wear partisan clothing.

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