I voted today – and was asked to take off my mckinney button

So today I voted at an early voting location at the University of Utah. I wore my McKinney/Clemente button on my jacket:

When I registered I was asked by a poll worker to remove my button. Of course I asked why. I was told that it was a form of campaigning. So then I asked what if I showed up in a t-shirt with the logo/slogan of my candidate and was told I would have to turn it inside out.

Because I was in a hurry, I decided not to challenge this. Besides, on the back of my backpack I had another button that the poll workers didn’t see (I took that photo after I voted so I wouldn’t attract attention to it):

When I got home I found the Utah code and an item from the ACLU that explains the law on wearing campaign items to the polls:

From the ACLU:

Can I take election materials with me into my
polling place?

Yes. You can take written or printed election
materials with you as long as they?re for your own
use in casting your ballot. Examples include a
sample ballot, a voter guide, or this card. But you?re
not allowed to show or distribute these materials to
anyone else within 150 feet of your polling place, and
you may not be allowed to wear campaign clothing,
stickers, or buttons in your polling place unless you
cover them up. Utah Code Ann. § 20A-3-501.

From the Utah Annotated Code
20A-3-501. Polling place — Prohibited activities.
(1) As used in this section:
(a) “electioneering” includes any oral, printed, or written attempt to persuade
persons to refrain from voting or to vote for or vote against any candidate or issue; and
(b) “polling place” means the physical place where ballots and absentee ballots are
cast and includes the county clerk’s office or city hall during the period in which
absentee ballots may be cast there.
(2) (a) A person may not, within a polling place or in any public area within 150
feet of the building where a polling place is located:
(i) do any electioneering;
(ii) circulate cards or handbills of any kind;
(iii) solicit signatures to any kind of petition; or
(iv) engage in any practice that interferes with the freedom of voters to vote or
disrupts the administration of the polling place.
(b) A county, municipality, school district, or local district may not prohibit
electioneering that occurs more than 150 feet from the building where a polling place is
located, but may regulate the place and manner of that electioneering to protect the
public safety.
(3) (a) A person may not obstruct the doors or entries to a building in which a
polling place is located or prevent free access to and from any polling place.
(b) A sheriff, deputy sheriff, or municipal law enforcement officer shall prevent
the obstruction of the entrance to a polling place and may arrest any person creating an
(4) A person may not:
(a) remove any ballot from the polling place before the closing of the polls, except
as provided in Section 20A-4-101; or
(b) solicit any voter to show his ballot.
(5) A person may not receive a voted ballot from any voter or deliver an unused
ballot to a voter unless that person is a poll worker.
(6) Any person who violates any provision of this section is guilty of a class A
(7) A political subdivision may not prohibit political signs that are located more
than 150 feet away from a polling place, but may regulate their placement to protect
public safety.

Amended by Chapter 75, 2007 General Session
Amended by Chapter 329, 2007 General Session

Okay, so I broke the law. But I’m smiling….

One response to “I voted today – and was asked to take off my mckinney button

  1. Yeah
    I think the statute is a good idea (especially in this state, where you can just imagine what most people would be wearing if they could)…

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