Can You Wear Political Apparel to Vote?
In Kansas City, Missouri, a man wearing a “Make America Great Again” was unable to vote at the church in which the Missouri primary elections were being held. He was trying to vote at the Northland Cathedral where he was approached and asked to remove his hat before proceeding. He did not and was escorted from the Northland Cathedral by police officers.
The man was reported to be “upset” and “combative” after poll workers asked him to remove his hat. Tiffany Ellison, the Democratic director of the Clay Country Election Board, reported. A person standing by went to Twitter to share his perspective on this situation in which he saw a “slightly inebriated, belligerent man wearing a red hat.”
After being escorted from the voting premises, he called the Secretary of State’s Office to explain his situation. He also asked if wearing the hat was illegal. The Secretary of State’s Office replied that he was not breaking any law or doing anything illegal by wearing the hat to the polling place, so they informed him that he was able to return to the voting location and vote.
Since this was a primary election for Missouri, the “Make America Great Again” hat did not represent any of the candidates there. Further, even though the hat’s slogan is strongly associated with Donald Trump, the hat did not actually say his name anywhere on the hat.
Ellison also agreed that he should not have been asked to remove his hat as it did not break any laws. It is the federal law that voters cannot wear apparel or merchandise (i.e. shirts, buttons, hats) with the candidates’ names to the ballot for that specific election. Missouri state law mirrors that of the federal law: “voters are not allowed to wear anything related to candidates, polling or other electioneering issues within 25 feet of the polling building. Violating the law is a misdemeanor offense.” However, this unidentified Kansas City man did not violate this law and thus did not receive punishment.