Election officials warn that you should Leave your “Hillary for Prison” and “Make America Great Again” hats and shirts at home on Election Day.
A Trump voter in Texas was arrested during early voting for wearing a “basket of deplorables” t-shirt. He was arrested after he refused to remove it, or turn it inside out.
The Bulverde, Texas man, 55-year-old Brett Mauthe, took his Trump hat off when he was asked but allegedly did not comply with all the instructions, reported the ABC affiliate in San Antonio on October 28. Bulverde is in Comal County, part of the greater San Antonio area. Mauthe reportedly said he was unaware that it was against Texas law to wear such attire to the polls.
The United States Supreme Court has upheld similar laws against electioneering at the polls. The Texas Tribune reported that the director of the Election Academy at the University of Minnesota said, “The intent is to allow polling places to function as intended by giving voters and election workers space from campaign activity and cast undisturbed ballots.” If you are unsure about the laws in your state, check with you Secretary of State or local election official.
It’s not only clearly partisan attire that is banned, like “I’m with her,” but any message or symbols that support a particular group or institution, like a union to name one example. These are all forbidden by law at the polls.
Harris County (Houston) County Clerk Stan Stanart told Breitbart Texas, “The polls must be kept non-partisan. No political buttons, or t-shirts or anything that is partisan or deals with a candidate or a position are allowed at the polls.”
Even a shirt that said “Vote the Bible,” has been considered electioneering, reported the Houston Chronicle. Texas Secretary of State Spokesperson Alicia Pierce told the publication, “There was someone a couple years ago that had a shirt that said ‘vote the bible,’ so it wasn’t endorsing a particular candidate or particular party, but nonetheless, it was interpreted as electioneering.” She added, “Because we can’t anticipate any scenario at a poll, election judges have broad discretion in determining what electioneering is.”
Like political signs near the polling location, the law applies to political messages or attire within 100 feet of the voting location.
Section 85.036 of the Texas Election Code (entitled “Electioneering”) says that it is a Class C misdemeanor to violate the Texas law. This section provides:
(a) During the time an early voting polling place is open for the conduct of early voting, a person may not electioneer for or against any candidate, measure, or political party in or within 100 feet of an outside door through which a voter may enter the building or structure in which the early voting polling place is located.
(b) The entity that owns or controls a public building being used as an early voting polling place may not, at any time during the early voting period, prohibit electioneering on the building’s premises outside of the area described in Subsection (a), but may enact reasonable regulations concerning the time, place, and manner of electioneering.
(c) During the early voting period, the early voting clerk shall keep continuously posted:
(1) at the entrance to the room or area, as applicable, in which the early voting polling place is located, a sign on which is printed in large letters “Early Voting Polling Place”; and
(2) at the outer limits of the area within which electioneering is prohibited, a sign on which is printed in large letters “Distance Marker. No electioneering between this point and the entrance to the early voting polling place.”
(d) A person commits an offense if the person electioneers in violation of Subsection (a).
“Electioneering” is defined in the Texas Election Code as “the posting, use, or distribution of political signs or literature,” but has been interpreted more broadly.
Harris County Clerk Stanart said he told election judges to use common sense when making a decision about “electioneering.” The Harris County Clerk’s Office also distributed handbooks which included the Texas law.