Thursday, September 25, 2008

Voter Intimidation Alive in North Carolina--Stop the lies

A new rumor is circulating in cyberspace. I had heard about this one from the Democratic Party, but now have received one of the emails personally from a friend who found it plausible. Please be aware that people who are feeling threatened by the recent poll numbers are going to start to increase the scope and volume of tactics to intimidate voters in North Carolina and elsewhere.

Here is the text of the email that is circulating:

PLEASE ADVISE EVERYONE YOU KNOW THAT THEY ABSOLUTELY CAN
NOT GO TO THE POLLS WEARING ANY OBAMA SHIRTS, PINS OR HATS, IT IS AGAINST THE LAW AND WILL BE GROUNDS TO HAVE THE POLLING OFFICIALS TURN YOU AWAY.
THAT IS CONSIDERED CAMPAIGNING AND NO ONE CAN CAMPAIGN WITHIN X AMOUNT OF FEET OF THE POLLS. THEY ARE BANKING ON US BEING EXCITED AND NOT BEING AWARE OF THIS LONG STANDING LAW THAT YOU CAN BET WILL BE ENFORCED THIS YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THEY ARE BANKING THAT IF ARE TURNED AWAY YOU WILL NOT GO HOME AND
CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES.. PLEASE JUST DON'T WEAR OBAMA GEAR OF ANY SORTS TO THE POLLS!!


The following response from the Democratic Party was sent to me within minutes of the receipt of this fraudulent email:

Action Alert: Help Kill This Rumor

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Please help us dispell an election rumor that is spreading like wildfire. Let people know: It's okay to wear candidate apparel to the polls!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Contrary to popular rumor: a voter who is wearing a political cap, T-shirt, or button and does not electioneer within the polling place will be allowed to vote in a normal matter.

People can wear buttons, T-shirts, hats, whatever, with the name or picture of a candidate but they can NOT engage in electioneering inside the polling place (or outside, within 50 feet of it). They need to proceed in an orderly manner to vote and leave without making any effort to bring attention to their campaign handout, clothes, etc. If they point to their shirt or tell others, "Hey, vote for [name on hat]," then they are electioneering and they will be asked to stop immediately, and if they persist, they will be asked to leave.

That's the response from the attorney of the State Board of Elections to a fast-spreading rumor that voters will be barred from the polling place if they wear a T-shirt with the name of a candidate on it. Here is SBOE attorney Don Wright's exact reply to the question. Please feel free to forward this to people you know:

From: Don Wright
Subject: another elections myth???

This is a false rumor that is growing like wildfire. Of course it is false.

The rumor started from statements made on the Steve Harvey Radio Show. I visited their website and looked at the e-mails and this rumor was there.

Our position is and always has been......

A voter may enter a voting place to vote wearing political items as long as they proceed to vote in an orderly and timely manner, and do not attempt to electioneer within the voting place. A voter wearing a T-shirt saying "Vote for X" who shouts "vote for X" or places his T-shirt in the sightline of voters asking support for "X" is obviously electioneering and will be asked to refrain from the conduct at once, and if they continue will be removed.

A voter who is wearing a political cap, T-shirt, or button and does not electioneer within the polling place will be allowed to vote in a normal matter.


Help Us Get the Word Out

Anything that intimidates, discourages or confuses potential voters is bad for democracy -- help us knock down the false rumors and help people feel good about voting. If you feel like you are mistreated when you vote because of what you are wearing, or for some other reason, you can contact the national Election Protection hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE), Democracy North Carolina at 1-888-OUR-VOTE or call the State Board of Elections (1-866-522-4723). Thank You!

Sincerely,
Your Democracy North Carolina Team


Democracy North Carolina is a statewide nonpartisan organization that uses research, grassroots organizing and coalition building to promote voter participation and fair elections. Please visit us on the web at www.democracy-nc.org for more information on our activities.


While the US Constitution, although severely weakened under the stewardship of the current President and his Party, guarantees us freedom of expression (in print, in speech, in the clothes we choose to wear), it probably is illegal to spread incorrect or false information knowingly to influence voters on election day. Please respond to anyone who sends you the fraudulent email about what you can and can not wear to the polls and tell them that their information is incorrect. Use the "reply to all" function so that everyone on their distribution list gets the corrected information. If the person who sent it to you persists in sending out false information, please report them to election officials.

It is telling that this email focused solely on Obama supporters. Please know that if you support John McCain, you too, can wear any t-shirts, pins or hats to the polls on election day. Just don't cause a ruckus while there, no matter who you support, and your voting rights will be as protected as those of anyone else.

As a fan of the film Napoleon Dynamite, I guess I will refrain from wearing my "Vote for Pedro" t-shirt on election day, as that would, indeed, be seen as electioneering!!

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