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Memphis poll worker fired for turning away voters with "Black Lives Matter" shirts

Record number of early voters met by long lines
Record number of early voters met by long lin... 02:03

A poll worker in Memphis, Tennessee, has been fired after turning away early voters who were wearing "Black Lives Matter" and "I Can't Breathe" shirts, an elections official said Monday. The worker was fired Friday after officials received a call from a witness at the Dave Wells Community Center in Memphis, Shelby County Election Commission spokeswoman Suzanne Thompson said.

Tennessee law does not allow voters to wear items bearing the name of a candidate or a political party in a polling place. But state law does not prohibit statements such as "Black Lives Matter," Thompson said.

The number of voters who were told to leave was not immediately known, but Thompson said it was only a few. The poll worker thought the statements were tied to the Democratic Party, Thompson said.

"That was pretty bad," she said. "They were not supposed to be turned away."

Elections administrator Linda Phillips told CBS affiliate WREG-TV the fired poll worker had been informed several times what the rules were.

"He was given very clear instructions. He was given clear instructions the next day, and again didn't pay attention to them. So he was terminated," Phillips said.

Early voter turnout ahead of the Nov. 3 election has been strong in Memphis and throughout Tennessee. Early voting ends Oct. 29 in the state.

WREG reports early voting at 26 Shelby County sites runs through Oct. 29. Wednesday and Thursday's turnout set early voting records, the election commission said. 

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