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State GOP Can Go to Hell

Apparently the Pennsylvania GOP is unhappy that people will be able to wear whatever they want into the polling booth:

Officials from the state Republican Party Thursday morning criticized a decision from the Pennsylvania Department of State allowing voters to wear candidate T-shirts and buttons when they enter polling stations, saying the paraphernalia could sway voters and force polling officials to act as “fashion police.”

If the Pennsylvania State GOP were half as concerned about the fact that they have a ground game that’s utterly pathetic as they are about what people are wearing on election day, we might just be able to turn Pennsylvania for McCain this election cycle.  GOP Chairman Bob Gleason needs to get back to the basics and stop worrying that people out there might just decide to exercise free speech.

UPDATE: I’ve since been convinced that my position on this issue was not well thought out.  I tend to sympathize first with free expression, but for now I’ll agree that there’s value in a sterile polling area.

11 Responses to “State GOP Can Go to Hell”

  1. Bitter says:

    As long as they ask election coordinators to make sure those folks who are wearing it don’t linger and spend lots of time trying to get their message out unfairly, that’s fine.

    But, I can see their concern that shenanigans start happening where “voters” just don’t leave.

  2. Sebastian says:

    You solve that by a rule that people can’t loiter in polling areas. That’s completely reasonable.

  3. OrangeNeckInNY says:

    Well, there are “No Polling” rules within a certain distance from the polling locations. Those shirts are, in essence, wearable yard signs.

  4. Bitter says:

    I agree, OrangeNeck.

    How do you define loiter when it comes to voting? If you rush them along, then you set up the state to be sued for getting in the way of voting. What if I make an effort to stand around as much as possible while “making up my mind”?

  5. Sebastian says:

    Yeah, I see what you are saying. But it shouldn’t be that hard to narrow the rule so people can wear whatever they want to go vote, but still prevent electioneering inside the polling place. There just seems to be more pressing issues.

  6. Bitter says:

    Typically they would just ask voters to take off a button and turn a shirt inside out.

  7. gattsuru says:

    If we were sane, I’d think “get in the damn line, sign the paper, get out of the way” would work well enough, but apparently that’s not quite effective enough these days.

  8. Wyatt Earp says:

    Hell, maybe they can channel this energy into finding a decent Philly mayoral candidate . . .

  9. Murdoc says:

    Although I happen to agree that there are bigger fish to fry, rules against partisan clothing or politicking within a certain distance of voting stations is a good and important one. It’s from that sort of thing that voter intimidation begins.

    Send a dozen mean-looking thugs wearing Obama shirts to the local school and Grandpa and Grandma may decide to skip this one. Or vice versa. Etc. etc.

  10. Bitter says:

    I think the reason you tend to side with free expression is because you’re not thinking of ways to abuse it in order to intimidate or influence people unfairly. You’re too idealistic. :)

    (I’m semi-kidding. Don’t change. I like you that way.)

  11. Well, considering how polls ignore laws about this sort of thing here, I’m a little surprised the GOP made any statement. People handing out flyers in your face as you walk in the door, setting up tables and giving away free food five feet away, I’ve never seen anything like it. The first time I voted in Pennsylvania in the primary, when I was waiting in line, another guy walked up and gave his name. The guy working there shouted, “Our first Democrat!” Indiana’s not a party registration state, and you have to tell them which ticket you want, but I can’t imagine something like that happening in an Indiana polling place. Just try shoving a flyer in somebody’s face right in the door and see how fast your butt lands in jail.

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