(Paul Jacob/Common Sense) – Electioneering laws that prohibit campaigning at or near polling sites are a bit peculiar. Generally, you’ve got a right to peacefully campaign for your candidate, or party, or reform, so long as you don’t obstruct lawful traffic. But, on the other hand, one doesn’t want to have to run through a gauntlet of mad campaigning activity on the way to vote, even if one technically can navigate a path.
Electioneering law prohibits free speech and association in the cause of assuring access to the ballot box.
But what constitutes “electioneering”?
In the January issue of Reason, Brian Doherty told the story of Tea Party activist Diane Wickberg. She had gone to the polls wearing a “We The People” t-shirt, emblazoning the words “Flagstaff Tea Party — Reclaiming Our Constitution Now.” She got to vote, the poll workers said, only because she was the only voter on the premises. “Coconino County Recorder Candace Owens later warned her that she would not be allowed to vote at a polling station in the county again if she wore the shirt,” Doherty reported.
Wickberg donned the shirt, again, for her next trip to the polls, and was told to cover up, and was scolded never to wear it to any future poll trip. She sued.
The county has agreed to implement objective standards, re-train their poll workers, and prohibit t-shirts only if they pitch for a particular candidate, party, or specific issue on the ballot.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.