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Dress code for voting: what not to wear to the polls | WGN 720 Radio

(NEXSTAR) – Attire may not be the first thing most people think about before heading to the polls, but a misstep while getting dressed can put your vote at risk.

All states have some restrictions when it comes to in-person voting, and most states have rules for actively campaigning within a certain distance of a polling place. Some states, however, have expanded this rule to include dress codes.

In California, for example, the ban on canvassing within 100 feet of a polling place includes hats, shirts and buttons. Golden State is one of 21 that have state law banning campaign clothing at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The rest:

  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Maine
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont

Prohibited items of clothing vary by state, but include buttons, hats, shirts, stickers, and other items of clothing.

“…a person may not wear at a polling place a badge, insignia, emblem, or other similar communication device associated with a candidate, event, or political party appearing on the ballot or with the conduct of an election,” Texas State Law .

That’s right, in nearly half of the US states, t-shirts with candidates’ faces or campaign slogans will be considered electioneering or an attempt to influence someone’s vote. State laws vary when it comes to how far a person must be from a polling place while canvassing, with Alabama 30 feet from the door and Iowa 300 feet.

Depending on which state you live in, breaking the rules could result in more than a wasted trip to the polls.

In Kansasfor example, canvassing is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a fine of up to $500.

It’s always a good idea to check your area’s voting guidelines before you go to the polls. Some states, such as Maine, where campaign clothing is prohibited, have exceptions: Buttons that “do not exceed 3 inches and are worn by persons at the polls solely for the purpose of voting” are allowed.


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