DV Archive

Decision Virginia Archive 8/08- 7/12

Polling Place Confusion

with 4 comments

Ryan Nobles – bioemail

Tonight in our 11pm newscast I am reporting on a concern among voters in Virginia about the wearing of campaign related clothing and apparel on the day of the vote. There are quite a few widely dispersed emails throughout Central Virginia warning people if they wear gear supporting a candidate they could at best be denied the right to vote and at worst even arrested. Tonight we are using my “Reality Check” segment to cut through to the truth related to this rumor.

The basics are, that according to Virginia Law no campaign material is allowed within 40 feet of the polling location. Where the confusion comes in, is that the law is enforced at the discretion of each election district. So what could be campaign material in one spot (ie: a shirt, a hat or a button) may be interpreted differently somewhere else.

However, what is not in danger is your right to vote.  There is also no chance that you may face criminal charges. Polling place officials will simply ask you to remove the clothing before you go into vote. As long as you comply with the law, your vote is safe.

Generally a good rule is, keep your gear at home and wear it to your victory party later that night.

There is an interesting back story as to what precipitated this confusion, which I will share with you tomorrow, in addition to a look at what are plans are to cover the first debate (if it even happens).

**UPDATE** You can see my report in our www.decisionvirginia.com video player.


Written by Ryan Nobles

September 26, 2008 at 2:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. I was wondering when the local media would address this story and now that NBC 12 has addressed it, I am not at all satisfied with the way it was handled. I just watched a story about this on the 5AM broadcast (9/26) and as an election officer (poll worker), I found the report to be more confusing than the emails. Considering the historic turnout anticipated for this election, I can’t understand why NBC 12 would not offer more clarity for voters and simply say that it is best err on the side of caution and avoid wearing campaign paraphenalia to the polls, as stated in this blog. Who goes to the polls expecting to be asked to change their shirt or to take it off and turn it inside out? Campaigning radius allowances and what not to wear to the polls are the types of election day rules that the average voter is unaware of and what would certainly be interpreted by these average unaware voters, as disenfranchisement. Please help contribute to the smoothest possible election day, so that poll workers can focus on assisting citizens to cast their votes, and not policing wardrobes.

    Thank you

    J. Cox

    September 26, 2008 at 10:17 am

  2. J. Cox’s comment is right on the money. A blanket statement that let’s people know that they should err on the side of caution and not wear campaign paraphenalia should have been made. I am canvasing this weekend to register voters and I will make it a point to let them know this. No matter who you are voting for no one wants to go through the hassle of being told that they can not vote until they change their shirt or remove a hat etc.


    B. Oladele

    September 26, 2008 at 3:28 pm

  3. I agree with the previous comments. I would like to add that I think it’s an overrated issue and a stupid rule that violates our 1st amendment right. It is my opinion that everyone has made up their mind by the time the reach the polls as to who they wish to vote for. There will be so many people at this election, I don’t think attire will be on any of the poll workers minds. The country is in such a confused state we think everything and everybody is going to prevent our one voice from being heard. As for me there is nothing that will stop me from casting my vote, if they send me away 5 times I’ll come back for the 6th.

    S Craddock

    September 27, 2008 at 12:35 am

  4. This is illegal. I intend to wear an Obama shirt to the polls. I’ll go to jail before having my right to vote denied.

    I do not work for a campaign, and my shirt is of my own design. This law is illegal, and I intend to fight it in the courts. Someone has to take one for the team to get this law knocked down, and hopefully I won’t be the only one to challenge this on Nov.4.

    Jack Horner

    October 8, 2008 at 5:50 am

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