Pins pulled from Aspen election volunteers
November 1, 2008
ASPEN ” Those manning the polls in Aspen stopped wearing pins with an “I voted early” proclamation on them late last week after questions arose about its potential connection to Barack Obama.
Although the pins do not explicitly state a preference for one candidate or the other, they feature the logo of presidential candidate Obama, which arguably makes wearing them a subtle act of “electioneering.” The logo ” used throughout the candidate’s election literature ” shows the image of an American flag in front of a rising sun.
On Thursday, two of those helping with the election were wearing the buttons as they checked identification or handed out ballots. Darlene Walsh, who was checking identification Thursday while wearing one of the pins, said she was wearing it because it had an “I voted early message.” She did not think it indicated support for Obama.
County Clerk and Recorder Janice Vos Caudill confirmed that those working at the polls on Thursday had not realized the buttons implicitly signaled support for Obama.
They were attracted to the buttons simply because of their message to vote early, she said.
The buttons were reportedly dropped off at the county clerk’s office, but Vos Caudill did not know who had left them.
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At issue is a state statute that prohibits electioneering within 100 feet of voting sites. Colorado law defines electioneering as “campaigning for or against any candidate who is on the ballot or any ballot issue or ballot question that is on the ballot.”
Although the statute does not explicitly state that voters and volunteers cannot wear campaign paraphernalia at the polls, many in Colorado ” including the Secretary of State Mike Coffman ” have interpreted the law as restricting such gear.
“If you are voting at the polls, don’t wear anything referencing a candidate, ballot issue or party affiliation,” Coffman said in a press release issued Thursday.
When Vos Caudill initially raised the question among those working, one Republican present said he thought the logo might be a McCain logo, said Vos Caudill.
Vos Caudill eventually printed out a page from the Obama website to demonstrate the similarity between the Obama logo and the pins. Convinced, those working agreed not to wear the pins any longer, she said.
The state statute also explicitly states that the ban against electioneering does not include a ban on the “respectful display of the American flag” “arguably, exactly what Obama’s logo is.