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Partisan apparel not allowed in Franklin County on Election Day

November 04, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Got an Obama T-shirt or a McCain hat?

The Franklin County (Pa.) Election Board would like anyone with partisan political apparel to leave it at home, in the car or cover it up.

It has been the policy of the county not to allow electioneering materials, including clothing, into polling places during voting, Deputy Chief Clerk Jean Byers said.

That was buttressed by a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruling involving another county that, while not banning such attire, left it up to counties to determine what constitutes "electioneering."

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The rule banning partisan attire in the county dates to about a decade ago and resulted from complaints of voters about it being worn inside polling places, Byers said. That was tested by someone who wore a political T-shirt into a poll in the April primary and the Department of State said that was electioneering, Byers said.

If someone arrives at a poll wearing partisan attire, Byers said that person will have the option of taking it off or being given a blue smock to cover the garment.

Adams and Cumberland counties also ban such clothing, although it is allowed in other counties, Byers said. The rule removes any ambiguity, she said.

"At what point do you draw the line?" she asked. If a shirt or a button is not considered electioneering, she said, some voters might stretch the limit with "talking ties and blinking hats."

Voters who are newly registered or have changed address and are voting at a precinct for the first time need to bring an approved form of identification, such as a driver's license, according to the Election Board.

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