Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Counties Differ on "Passive Electioneering"

Allegheny County voters have been free to wear campaign t-shirts, buttons and stickers at the polls. But voters in Butler County have not. The Department of State recently issued a memo that says so-called "passive electioneering" is okay as long as voters don't do anything else to try to influence other people's votes. But ultimately, it's up to individual counties to decide how to interpret the state's ban on electioneering.

Regis Young, that county's Director of Elections, says he thinks wearing campaign paraphernalia at the polls is electioneering. Elections judges there have often given voters a jacket to put over campaign t-shirts or asked them to remove buttons. He says it hasn't been a big problem in the past.

Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato says it's not okay for poll workers to wear partisan attire, but he doesn't think what voters wear is a big issue. Like Young, he says it hasn't been a big source of conflict. But two poll workers in Allegheny County are suing over the State Department memo, arguing it's illegal.

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