Texas law says that, while in the polling place, you can’t advocate for or against “any candidate, measure, or political party.” Granted, anyone with a “Don’t tread on me” button is probably a safe bet to be voting GOP this year — the left doesn’t remember colonial history, after all — but one can’t make assumptions. For instance, would it be fair to assume that a guy in a hammer-and-sickle t-shirt will always and everywhere be voting Democrat?
Actually, maybe that’s a bad example.
Katrina Pierson, who sits on the steering committee of the Dallas Tea Party and is also involved with the Garland Tea Party, told The Daily Caller that “around 11 o’clock yesterday,” a Garland Tea Party member, reported that she was told by an election official that she could not vote unless she removed her button. A second election official, Pierson said, did not recognize the button and did not understand why the other official was not permitting the woman to vote.
According to Pierson, the woman refused to remove her button, saying it was a violation of her first amendment rights, and called the sheriff’s office. The sheriff passed the matter on to the Dallas County Election Department, which failed to act.
The woman opted not to vote until she had done more research and figured out whether or not the election official was allowed to do that. The Garland Tea Party is currently conducting that investigation on her behalf…
Pierson says, “It’s not electioneering, it’s not a candidate, it’s not a party affiliation.”
A question for the election lawyers out there: If a tea-party candidate ended up on the ballot as an independent, would that change the calculus here? Would it change if the tea party became an actual political party and nominated someone but didn’t take the Gadsden flag as its official symbol? It’s unclear to me how far electioneering law would allow assumptions about advocacy and voting intentions to be drawn from symbols that aren’t formally linked to a party. If I go down to the polls next month in a Reagan t-shirt, it’s pretty clear which way I’m leaning — but is it so clear that polling officials could make me take it off?
Actually, I think it’d be rip-roaring fun to suspend electioneering laws this year if only in Nevada, just to see how far the Angle/Reid blood feud would go with their supporters unleashed. Forget t-shirts and buttons; I’m picturing nunchuks and brass knuckles emblazoned with the campaign logos. No survivors.