The U.S. Supreme Court has taken up the case of a man who says that dress codes for voting are unconstitutional. The Minnesota man said that he tried to vote while wearing a Tea Party shirt and a button showing his support for voter identification laws. He also wore a “Don’t Tread on Me” message which is commonly associated with the libertarian movement.
An election official stopped the man from voting wearing those items. They told the man that if he wanted to vote, he had to either hide or cover up the slogans and statements that aren’t allowed. The man tried to vote three times wearing the clothing. The first two times, election officials refused to let him vote. The third time, they let him vote, but they noted his name and contact information.
Minnesota law says that people can’t wear anything with political insignia on it to vote. That includes a button or any other item of clothing that’s “political.” Voters can’t wear political items anywhere at the voting location.
The man vowed to take his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. His wish came true. The U.S. Supreme Court has taken up the case of Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky.
The man’s supporters say that political buttons and the like are a way for average people to show their support for a political candidate or cause. They say the prohibition is too broad. There isn’t any reason to restrict references to political parties, ideology and hot-button issues, they say.
They also say that polling officials have too much discretion. They can allow a logo if it’s a cause that they support. They can refuse a similar logo that they don’t like just by calling it political.
In one case, Texas voting officials tried to ban someone from voting because they wore a shirt with the word “Alaska” on it. They said it showed support for Sarah Palin. In Colorado, voters faced the wrath when they wore shirts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Voting officials said that MIT might be short for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but it might also show support for then-Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The states say that these laws are necessary to keep voting fair. They say that local polling officials have to have discretion in order to deal with any kind of situation that arises on voting day. The U.S. Supreme Court expects to issue its decision by June 2018.