Voters Beware: Poll Rules Apply

This story was written by Jennifer Sutton, The Lariat

(UWIRE) -- Before voters head out to the polls Tuesday there are a few poll place rules that every voter should be aware of before getting in line to cast their ballot.

Kathy E. Van Wolfe, McLennan County Elections Administrator, said no campaigning can be done within 100 feet to the polling place in the state of Texas.

"You can't wear any campaign literature into the polling place," Van Wolfe said.

Campaign literature includes T-shirts, buttons, stickers or anything else deemed to be in support of a particular campaign. Those wearing such items will be asked to remove them or cover them up in some way.

If it is a T-shirt that can't be covered, then the wearer should be prepared to turn the shirt inside out said Van Wolfe.

According to the Texas Constitution and Statutes Election Code Title 6 "Conduct of Election" Section 61.010 of Title 6 states, "A person may not wear a badge, insignia, emblem, or other similar communicative device relating to a candidate, measure, or political party appearing on the ballot, or to the conduct of the election, in the polling place or within 100 feet of any outside door through which a voter may enter the building in which the polling place is located."

Also, Section 61.013 of the same Title states, "A person may not use a wireless communication device within 100 feet of a voting station."

The rules apply to the media as well.

"News people have to stay out past the markers as well, no T-shits with campaigning on them, no cell phone usage in the building and no campaigning within a hundred feet of the polling place," said Arrika King, assistant worker in the McLennan County Elections Office.

Van Wolfe said there will be distance markers around the polling centers designating where the 100 feet begins.

"[The rules] are the same all over Texas," Van Wolfe said. "It's a rule and it's a law."

Baylor University senior Erin Pedigo did not know that these laws existed until she received voting information with her absentee ballot.

"I didn't know about the rules until a week ago, then I thought about it and it kind of makes sense," Pedigo said.

Not everybody agrees with these rules.

"It's a violation of your first amendment right to freedom of speech and you should be able to wear whatever you want, whenever you want," said Baylor senior Brandon Decker.

E. Leon Carter, partner with Munck Carter, P.C. law firm in Dallas, said he thinks these poll place guidelines are a good idea.

"I think the fact that they do have those guidelines in place is good and it helps the political process," Carter said. "You can't have campaign signs at a certain distance and this allows the voter to go in a vote without pressure from candidates."

For more information about votinglocations and rules visit www.co.mclennan.tx.us/elections or www.rockthevote.com.
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