A Sartorial Poll Tax of Sorts in Arizona Challenged


Is wearing a Tea Party T-shirt illegal electioneering at a polling place? Arizona officials seem to think so, and the Goldwater Institute is challenging them in court over a woman twice told she couldn't wear her Flagstaff Tea Party garb while voting. Details from a Goldwater Institute press release:

When Diane Wickberg went to vote in the special statewide election on May 18, 2010, she was wearing the same T-shirt she wears every Tuesday. The white shirt includes the logos "We the People" and "Flagstaff Tea Party – Reclaiming our Constitution Now."

…She was shocked when a poll worker told her to remove the shirt or turn it inside out before voting. The election worker claimed the T-shirt might influence or threaten other voters. Under state law, electioneering inside a polling place is a misdemeanor crime.

But Mrs. Wickberg didn't understand. The T-shirt didn't suggest voting for or against anything, and the Flagstaff Tea Party hadn't taken a stand on the single issue on the May 18 ballot.

In the end, Mrs. Wickberg was allowed to vote. But then she was stopped again when she went to vote in the Aug. 24 state primary. This time, Mrs. Wickberg had to cover her T-shirt with a sweater and hide her association with the Flagstaff Tea Party, even though it hadn't endorsed any candidates.

Mrs. Wickberg intends to vote once more in the Nov. 2 general election. The Goldwater Institute filed a federal civil rights lawsuit today against Coconino County and County Recorder Candace D. Owens to protect Mrs. Wickberg constitutional right to wear her tea party T-shirt when she goes to her polling place.