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New law allows political clothing at voting booths

PHOENIX — Voters who want to wear something that makes a political statement when they go to the polls in November can go right ahead.

When Diane Wickberg went to vote in Flagstaff in 2010, she was stopped at the door because of the shirt she was wearing.

“On the front it said ‘Flagstaff Tea Party’, and on the back it said ‘Protecting the Constitution’,” said Starlee Rhodes of the Goldwater Institute.

“Poll workers turned her away from voting that day because they said she was wearing a shirt that was trying to influence the way other people voted.”

The shirt did not endorse any political candidate or ballot measure. Rhodes said a judge issued an injunction that allowed Wickberg to vote. That injunction was upheld by a court last year.

That led to a bill that passed the Arizona Legislature and has now become law. Rhodes said it allows you to wear whatever you want to your polling place.

“If you want to wear your Barack Obama T-shirt into the polling booth, you go right ahead,” Rhodes said. “If you want to wear your Romney/Ryan shirt, sticker or button, you’re free to do it.”

Rhodes said that engaging in political conversation in an attempt to persuade other voters inside the polling place is still a no-no.

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