5 Voting Poll No-Nos
by Bob Mitchell & Rebecca Asher
The Presidential election is more than a year away, but the 2015 U.S. general election is today, Tuesday, November 3, and will feature special elections to the United States Congress, municipal, school board, gubernatorial and state legislative elections in some states, citizen initiatives in other states and a variety of local offices on the ballot.
To find information about the elections happening in your state, visit www.elections.mytimetovote.com
The reason the general election is popular and brings a high attendance of voters is because the issues on the ballot are generally localized, creating a reason for high voter turnout.
Here are five voting poll no-nos to avoid and are considered a Class C misdemeanor if enforced:
- Wearing political clothing or handing out political SWAG
Many states have laws against passive electioneering, which means clothing with slogans, buttons or other election merchandise within 100-150 feet of the polling place should be avoided.
While electioneering laws differ from state to state, it is always safe to check with online with your local municipality to see what their rules are; worst case scenario the pollsters may ask you to turn your shirt inside out and remove any wearable signage.
- Talking in line
There is no specific law about discussing politics in line at the polls; however, it’s important to have some voting-line etiquette and be conscience of your surroundings.
[Sec. 33.05, Penal Code]; f. Unlawfully influencing voters [Sec. 61.008]; g. Coercing voters [Sec. 36.03, Penal Code]; h. Unlawfully telling another person information that was obtained at the polling place about how a voter has voted [Sec. 61.006]; i. Unlawfully giving information about the status of the vote count or the names of people who have voted before the polls close [Sec. 61.007];
- A selfie could get you arrested
Photography of any kind is prohibited inside the ballot booth, this includes the obvious selfie. If you want to commemorate the moment, you’ll need to do it outside within 100-150 feet from any polling staff or machines.
- Your social media presence
Using social media during the voting process is a similar offense to photography; however, it could carry a more severe penalty because if you tweet who you are voting for while voting, your vote is no longer confidential. So send a tweet about your poling experience, but do it after you have voted and outside the polling station.
Sec. 61.014. USE OF CERTAIN DEVICES. (a) A person may not use a wireless communication device within 100 feet of a voting station.
- (b) A person may not use any mechanical or electronic means of recording images or sound within 100 feet of a voting station.
While Fluffy and Fido are unable to vote, may bring their guide dogs or assisted animals. While there is no official rule banning pets, if they pet disrupts you or others from the voting process, then they the polling staff may assist with the pet until your vote in complete. Remember, your pet must be on a leash or in a carrier at all times and you should adhere to you local city ordinances.
It is always recommended to check with your local polling station before heading out to make sure you know the rules and you have all of the proper identification needed.
Bob Mitchell and Rebecca Asher are coauthors of The Conflicted American, a contemporary nonfiction book about bringing igniting American public opinion in the 21st century and bringing political discussion back to the dinner table. The book is expected to be released spring 2016.