What not to wear to the polls

Every election year, candidates try to create the most outrageous and unique t-shirts, hats, and buttons for their constituents.

Some of the more popular items this election were Hillary Clinton’s “Love Trumps Hate” and Donald Trump’s iconic “Make America Great Again” trucker hat. Many constituents wear their memorabilia with pride as they do for their favorite sports teams.

However, wearing these items to the polls is strictly prohibited according to California voting laws.

While it is everyone’s fundamental right to show support for his or her candidate, doing so at the polls is considered electioneering.

The California Elections Code section 319.5 defined electioneering as any sort of suggestive support or opposition of a candidate.

“[Electioneering is the] visible display or audible dissemination of information that advocates for or against any candidate or measure on the ballot within 100 feet of a polling place, an elections official’s office, or a satellite location under Section 3018,” the code said.

California Code 319.5 compiled a list of all the items that are considered electioneering and prohibited from voting booths. These items include anything that displays a candidate’s name, likeness, or logo or anything that shows favor or opposition for a measure on the ballot. This could be something that implies you are for or against a proposition whether it is referred to by title, subject, or logo.

Buttons, hats, pencils, pens, shirts, signs, or stickers containing information about candidates or issues on the ballot, and any audible broadcasting of information about candidates or measures on the ballot, are also not allowed at the polling location.

Some students at the University of San Diego support this law, whereas others find it unnecessary.

Senior Christine Keelan agreed with part of California voting laws. Keelan said that she felt people should not be allowed to rally for their candidates outside voting booths.

“I think that [voters] should keep their opinions to [themselves] because, at this point, everything has already been said and done,” Keelan said. “Now, you should just vote and have [your vote] be it. People do have a right to protest, but I think outside voting booths it should be a silent protest and a far distance from polls.”

Similar to Keelan, senior Luzmaria Acevedo-Banuelos explained that she agreed with the law.  

“I believe that whenever someone is going to vote at the polls it should be neutral,” Acevedo-Banualos said.  “There is so much going on now with the media in general. You see it everywhere even on bumper stickers. I just personally think when you go to do what you got to do, you don’t need to prove a point.”

Junior Dani Aguilar, however, did not agree with voters being turned away or asked to cover up their attire at the polls.   

“I don’t think it should be a problem,” Aguilar said. “People who already made their choice should be sure about their choice. I don’t see how wearing a shirt, for example, would affect their decision.”

Senior Annalysa Vasquez expressed her agreement with Aguilar. Vasquez said voters showing their support for their candidate should not matter.

“I think it is demeaning to tell people what they can and cannot wear when they are going to vote,” Vasquez said. They are just showing support for who they are going to vote for. I think that if they are trying to get them to not wear [politically-affiliated attire] because they are going to sway people’s vote is ridiculous. Because, by the time they are at the polls, I’m pretty sure their mind is already made up. It also goes against their first amendment right to freedom of speech and expression.”

Junior Andrew Solomon also said voters should have their minds made up by the time they reach the polls.

“If you are going to vote, your mind is probably made up,” Solomon said. “If you are going to be influenced, or if you are going to be bothered, I think you shouldn’t be voting whatsoever.”

Senior Eddie Utibe shared that he was unaware of the law.   

“I didn’t even know that was a voting law,” Utibe said. “I would have probably been turned away from the polls. I planned on wearing my candidate’s shirt. I feel like this is ridiculous. It’s a violation of my right. I don’t understand how wearing a t-shirt to the polls would be against the law.”

While some USD students have expressed that these laws are a violation of their first amendment right, California voting laws are clear. The best way to avoid being asked to cover up, change, or leave the polls is to adhere to the laws.

If wearing your candidate’s attire is  important to you, make sure you are just over 100 feet from your polling place.  


Written by Jennifer Givens, Asst. Feature

Electioneering is not permitted within 100 feet of polling stations.

Electioneering is not permitted within 100 feet of polling stations.