Rules for polling place go up on big signs

No one can say he or she didn’t know the rules now. Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir has posted these two signs after a recent incident in which several women wore pro-Obama clothing or buttons and brought cameras into the downtown Martinez election office.

Oh, the sign should also say: “Keep your clothes on.”

One of the women also stripped off her Obama shirt when asked to remove the offending item. Please, don’t disrobe.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen

  • I would make the argument that a law against a sign, shirt, button, etc. is a direct violation of the 1st Amendment. Call me “extreme” but the 1st says, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech… or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.”

    As we all know, “freedom of speech” has to do with expressive “actions,” not just actual “speech.” We also know that a demonstration of “speech” is lawful if it is “peaceful.”

    People should respect others peoples’ right to vote… plain and simple. A polling station should be considered like a library, (as they sometimes are) or a sanctuary for voters, and I don’t believe that there’s a law specifically saying you have to be quiet in a library. For the most part, people just are.

    The intent of the law would be to keep any type of voter intimidation to a minimum. I can see where it would be a problem having the supporters of a particular candidate, bond measure, prop, etc. wave signs in the faces’ of voters at a local precinct polling stations, as they’re trying to cast their vote(s) but, regulating what people can wear, or what a person’s shirt can display is a bit much for me.

    The “No Photography/Videotaping” law seems odd to me too. What if I wanted to take a picture of MY ballot, to keep a visual record of MY votes? I wonder if polling stations are considered “public-property” when public-voting is taking place? (There is a difference between “private-property” and “property open to the public.”) The supreme court has ruled that we have no reasonable expectation of privacy in “public.” However, I might make an argument against that one too, but who the heck am I? I’m just a voter!

  • Walter, the law has been on the books for decades that prohibits any political signs within 100 feet of a polling place.

    I think you will find that a “sign” can also be clothing imprinted with support for a candidate/ballot measure and political buttons.

  • Arne, I know that it’s not a new law. I’ve felt that it’s unconstitutional for awhile now. Do you think that it is constitutional? I only ask because I respect your opinion regarding constitutional issues because of your comments about the 2nd Amendment.

    I understand both sides of the argument but when it comes down to it… I always side with the Constitution. “Congress shall make no law…” Call me an “extremist” when it comes to rights.

  • Walter, Like you I believe in a fairly strict interpretation of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

    But we both understand that there are a few specific situations where the First Amendment has restrictions. The easiest one to observe is the restriction on yelling “Fire!” in a crowded room when there is no fire.

    The prohibition on politicking within 100 feet of a polling place is another “protection” to ensure that voters are not intimidated by people as they enter their polling place. Even pollsters have to remain at least 100 feet away from a polling place.

    To me, it is a reasonable prohibition and it does not interfere with my freedom of speech to cast my vote in the privacy of a voting booth without intimidation or harassment.