Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

Chicken suits in the polling booth

November 2, 2010 by Donald Applestein Esq.


With the mid-term elections upon us, a number of issues of what can be worn and not worn in and near polling places have arisen. Here are a few example that have cropped up so far:

  • For example, in the Nevada US Senate race, as a result of a remark by republican candidate Susan Lowden, supporters of her opponent, Democrat Harry Reid have begun wearing “chicken suits.”  Election officials have ruled that chicken suits will not be allowed because such clothing is not “appropriate.”
  • In Connecticut, the Secretary of State ruled that people could not wear clothing with displaced any connection with World Wrestling Entertainment because one of the US Senate candidates, Linda McMahon is the former CEO of the WWE.  A federal judge overruled that position and subsequently the Secretary issued a ruling that WWE apparel would be permitted.
  • In Georgia, there have been questions about Tea Party members wearing Tea Party T-shirts as they acted as poll watchers.  The concern of election officials was whether people wearing apparel with the name of a particular party would intimidate some voters.

Given these restrictions and issues, in light of the First Amendment’s free speech provisions and its application to states via the Fourteenth Amendment:

What do you think is appropriate to wear around polling places? Should distances be applied to the restrictions for around the polling place?

Let us know in the comments.

Photo from Flickr user giantrobot.

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