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Friday, January 27, 2023
HomeIllinois PoliticsRhoads: Electioneering okay now? The appearance of fairness does matter

Rhoads: Electioneering okay now? The appearance of fairness does matter



By Mark Rhoads - Obama shirt

Back in 2008, there was a fuss about Obama supporters who wore their campaign t-shirts in polling places in Pennsylvania. Most states prohibit any electioneering inside a polling place and that includes wearing campaign buttons or clothing.

In Illinois, we used to prohibit campaign signs within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling place. The reason was most officials knew it was not merely important to be impartial but to appear to be impartial.

Last night in Nevada, some poll workers for the state GOP were allowed to wear campaign t-shirts for different candidates and the state party said it was OK because they had been given special training.

No, it is not OK.

The point is that a polling place for a primary or caucus or general election should be sacred ground where all voters should feel they are free of influence or intimidation. Maybe the campaign shirts did not sway many voters last night, but that is not the point.  Free and fair elections are fair only wnen most voters feel safe.

If you are face to face with an election judge who is making a bold statement as to their own candidate preference, you might not feel that your vote will be counted impartially. Shame on the Nevada GOP and other jurisdictions that allow electioneering inside a polling place.


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  1. As a former precinct election judge, I used to get upset with persons who would leave campaign literature or palm cards in the voting booths in an effort to influence the next voter or two.
    Carrying literature into the polls was not prohibited, but placing it in the booths seemed highly objectionable.