02-19-2017  6:14 pm      •     

WASHINGTON (NNPA) - Don't wear campaign paraphernalia to voting polls on election day Nov. 4 or bring a sweater to cover it up, experts say.
''Whether or not they have a constitutional right to wear [campaign memorabilia] we tell them to leave it at home and avoid the hassle," says Laughlin McDonald, Director of ACLU Voting Right Project. "There is a Supreme Court decision that prohibited campaigning within 100 feet of a polling place so we advise that if they do wear a campaign button that they follow that state's law, unless they are trying to challenge it.''
Barbara Arnwine, executive director for Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, a non-profit legal organization that specializes in election law, agrees. She says that there should be no open endorsement of a candidate because it helps voting sites remain neutral.
But, she says, "There needs to be more uniformity of the law under local and state legislation."
Thousands of voters have received emails and text messages informing them that they may have problems if they show up to the voting booths wearing buttons, stickers and tee shirts with the names of political candidates. In many states, that could be true.
Maryland voter Alpatrick Golphin, 39, thought the email he received was just another unsubstantiated rumor.
"I thought it was a joke like Ashton [Kutcher] was trying to punk me," he said. Golphin has voted in other elections, but this was the first time he's heard anything about this. He may not have heard about not being allowed to wear his candidate's tee shirt to the voting polls because Maryland does not have a dress code per se. But, it still has laws against "electioneering" or campaigning inside a voting poll.
It is a state's decision how to regulate elections so long as the elections are conducted fairly, says Federal Elections Commission spokesperson Bob Biersack. Because there's no federal provision, elections are administered by the states.
Therefore, depending on what voting jurisdiction a citizen resides in, casting a ballot while displaying any campaign affiliations – including names or images on a hat, t-shirt or button - could be classified as passive electioneering, a misdemeanor in some states, depending on how the attire is interpreted by authorities.
The laws are meant to protect elections against voter intimidation and swaying decisions. But the written definition of electioneering is murky in some states. Virginia is a critical swing state in this year's presidential election but its voters aren't the only ones confused about the issue of what constitutes electioneering.
The state's board of elections are even having a hard time interpreting the law in a way that they could definitively inform their voting public.
"Section 24.2-604 of the Code of Virginia creates a 40 foot neutral zone in which campaign material is prohibited but there has been some confusion among the voting population in recent weeks as far as the definition of excessive campaigning at the polling place," the Virginia State Board of Elections said in a statement. "As a result, the State Board of Elections will meet on October 14th to make a ruling on the draft policy." 
Such states as Ohio, Tennessee and Texas emphatically ban the display of political buttons, caps, stickers and other like items within 100 feet of polls while they are open.
Kevin Kidder, spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State's Office, says that while there are restrictions against wearing political paraphernalia, the right to vote comes first.
''Voters are not allowed to wear campaign paraphernalia," Kidder said. "We'll ask them to turn it inside out. Put a jacket over it. The right to vote is absolute so you'll be allowed to vote but you can be charged later.''
Other states like Georgia and Florida have laws that are more lax. According to Florida Department of State spokeswoman Jennifer Davis, her state's definition of electioneering is reserved for more obvious campaigning. 
"There's no overt soliciting such as handing out campaign material," Davis states.  But when asked if there are any restrictions on the wearing of campaign paraphernalia she says, "Absolutely not. You can wear whatever you want. The only restriction is for the people working at the elections all day."
She added, "I can't imagine any restriction on that sort of thing because of free speech concerns."
Some courts don't see it that way.
A 2001 Washington, DC Circuit Court ruled against voter David Marlin, who had taken the DC Board of Elections and Ethics to court for denying his ballot because he wore a sticker supporting a specific mayoral candidate. The court sided with the board citing a Supreme Court ruling that stated that polling places are not a forum to engage in public discourse and such "view-point neutral" laws are a constitutional and necessary means of ensuring orderly election process.
Such laws have sparked widespread debate, even among students.
American University law student Kimberly Tucker published a legal paper entitled "You Can't Wear That to Vote: The Constitutionality of State Laws Prohibiting the Wearing of Political Message Buttons" in 2006 that argued against the restrictions.
''States cannot demonstrate a "compelling state interest" in prohibiting the wearing of political message buttons in the polling place," she wrote. She also argued that the laws are far too broad and that the statutory language often permits "arbitrary enforcement.''
Because of the wide latitude, says Arnwine, the best way is the safe way:  "What is correct is that you may have to cover up and expose your Obama tee shirt once you go outside the designated voting zone."

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
Oregon Lottery
Carpentry Professionals
Calendar

PHOTO GALLERY

Reed College Jobs
His Eye is on the Sparrow