Saturday, November 1, 2008

NABBED AT THE POLLS

I either was born yesterday or asleep at the switch! Yes, I knew that California's election code forbids anyone from engaging in "electioneering" within 100 feet of a polling place or an election official's office. What I did not know was that electioneering, while not defined in the code, is considered by the Secretary of State's office to happen when voters bring information, such as a t-shirt with a political logo on it, a ball cap with a political name on it, or even a campaign button within that same 100 feet. These people don't have to do any verbal electioneering; it is enough to merely wear something that is considered "political."

Now our local newspaper headlines today, "Leave Those Campaign Buttons, T-shirts at Home when Voting." It says that rumors about the rules have been circulating in e-mails. I do believe I have gotten every single kind of e-mail in the entire US in my e-mailbox, but that one did not make it into any of mine. It also states that church lectures and other social circles have been used to disseminate the information that voters could be turned away from the polls for showing up with so much as a campaign pin. I've missed those church services (I miss all of them, actually) and those social events (probably for the reason that I'm not much of a social butterfly.)

The article continues that according to Debra Bowen, secretary of state, her office has sent guidelines to election offices recently in an attempt to clarify the rules, which require voters to REMOVE OR COVER UP any campaign-related attire. She says that the people can still vote, but poll workers first would ask them to remove or cover any campaign-related messages. Some election officials will have smocks on hand, she said. Personally, I'd love to see Joe the Plumber in a smock. His very appearance at the polls, with or without a smock, would be, as far as I'm concerned, electioneering. Better he drape himself in a sheet with eyeholes. And I suppose our nominees should do that too. It would be awful if someone saw Joe Biden voting, as that might cause someone to think he is touting himself for a VP job.

And maybe the poll workers should stand by with duct tape for covering the mouths of anyone who might speak a political word within 100 feet of the polling place.

Kari Verjil, the registrar in San Bernardino County, said in a worst-case scenario she would have to call law-enforcement officers if a voter defies a poll workers' request to follow the law. Anyone who refuses to comply and is found guilty of this crime, a misdemeanor, could be subject to up to 12 months imprisonment, according to the code.

There's nothing like having an election so exciting as to draw the kinds of voting numbers that we are seeing on TV. And nothing so strange as to having to have a full body inspection before we can vote. Makes me wonder if we're going to have a lot of "free-speech" type of protesting going on. I certainly wouldn't be surprised.

I just found this whole article about as bizarre as any I've come across recently. Guess I'd better put away the jeans I was going to wear to the polls, the ones with an embroidered elephant on one back pocket and a donkey on the other. They were cute and really comfy. They are very nice to wear when I am sitting at the computer, because I can keep both political logos and ideas under control. So I'll save these jeans for another day, because if I had been asked by a poll worker to take them off and put on a smock, which would have made my scrawny legs (the ones my little granddaughter called "old") hang out the bottom of the smock, and show my feet with my most comfortable but horribly ugly brown Crocs on them -- well, I just wouldn't be able to do that, and would have to pass up on voting. And I don't want to do that either.

Having said all that, I'll now hold my peace.



1 comment:

Nancy said...

Caitlin and I were both precinct workers here in Sonoma. Although we did have an extraordinary turn-out, luckily we didn't have to ask anyone to remove anything!