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No electioneering: What not to do at the polls

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MURPHYSBORO (WSIL) -- With the general election less than two weeks away, officials want voters to know the rules when they go to the polls.

Especially when it comes to last-minute campaigning.

"Electioneering is where someone comes in and tries to discuss politics in the polling place. They talk about their candidate and who they're gonna vote for and stuff like that," explained Frank Byrd, Jackson County Clerk and Recorder.

Electioneering also includes wearing hats, tshirts or masks in support of a candidate.

In Illinois, you cannot be within 100 feet of a polling place while wearing any kind of political gear. That includes MAGA hats or Biden-labeled masks.

"The polling place is a safe space. Its where everybody can go and vote, and they don't have to hear all the rhetoric and all that stuff. And we don't want anybody intimidated, and there's laws against it," said Byrd.

If you do show up to vote wearing anything supporting a candidate, an election judge will ask you to either remove the item or cover it up.

"We can get a deputy involved if they don't wanna listen, or if they're causing some kind of intimidation, or they're not complying with the election judges," said Byrd.

Some people believe that being asked to remove their political gear is a violation of their freedom of speech. John Jackson with the Paul Simon Public Policy institute says that's not the case.

"Your First Amendment rights are not absolute. In this case, it's not a violation of your First Amendment rights. It's very carefully spelled out in the statute. So no, it's not a violation of your First Amendment rights. You have to give up something in order to comply with the law," said Jackson.

But if you comply with the rules, or if you simply forget you are wearing something politically-affiliated and you cover it up, you can still vote.

"We'll accommodate any voter because we want to make sure they get served. But yeah, they'll have to comply with that. Because other voters in there are gonna feel intimidated, and they would have to think about themselves. If someone was in there trying to intimidate them, they wouldn't like that either," said Byrd.

Tennessee and Kentucky also have the 100-foot rule. In Missouri it's 25 feet.

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Madeline Parker

Madeline Parker is a Multimedia Journalist at News 3 WSIL. Madeline joined the team in 2020 and graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a Bachelor’s in Electronic Journalism and a minor in Communication Studies.

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