Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Electioneering at the Polling Places.

The GAB has apparently decided that it is OK for people to circulate recall petitions at polling places inside the 100 foot buffer zone - subject to certain restrictions. That's a plausible interpretation of the law but not the only one.

Sec. 12.03(2)(b)1 provides that "[n]o person may engage in electioneering during polling hours on any public property on election day within 100 feet of an entrance to a building containing a polling place." Electioneering is defined as "any activity which is intended to influence voting at an election." Sec. 12.03(4)

In the context of this election, I am not sure that soliciting recall petitions isn't designed to influence voting. I am not sure I'd disagree with the GAB or would go the other way. I am generally loathe to support interpretations of the law that restrict speech or electoral advocacy.

I wouldn't be surprised if we start to see allegations that petition circulators are crossing the line.


Anonymous said...

Who wants to do this? I think the idea is nuts.

jp said...

Where I voted today, it appeared circulators had crossed the line (literally and figuratively) although I did not have a tape measure with me.

As part of the great unwashed, I cannot speak to the law.
However, I felt influenced to vote FOR Walker supporters

LawGirl said...
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LawGirl said...

At my polling place, there were recall petitioners RIGHT outside the entrance way (literally within a few feet of it). I have to admit to being very irritated by their presence.

While I had no idea there had been a GAB interpretation regarding today's antics, my immediate thought upon seeing them there, with the apparent tacit permission of the authorities, was that it may be possible that the law could be interpreted to refer only to those elections going on within the polling place on the day in question.

But, even without a legal argument at the ready (I didn't have my statute book on me), it just didn't "seem" right to me as I was walking in and out directly past these petitioners/protestors (though relatively quiet unless engaged, they did have a large sign describing in detail the reasons to recall my senator). It does not seem like the thing we should be permitting at polling places on election day no matter who or what is on the ballot - there's always the potential for trying to influence elections.

Their presence put a damper on what is usually one of my favorite activities (voting). I felt like I'd just walked past a mini-protest on my way to exercising my voting rights and that I was pressured to either sign the petition or, at least, vote in a way that would be seen as consistent with the petitioners. Not that it changed my vote, but the whole experience (going in and out) was uncomfortable.

When I asked the attendant at the polling place about it, she was very sympathetic to my concerns (apparently, I was not the first to question it), but gave the same response GAB apparently gave, saying that all they could do was tell the people not to harass voters.

I still think . . . there should be a law prohibiting this or that GAB should interpret the current one in a way that is consistent with putting up the fewest barriers to/least amount of discomfort associated with voting. They can get their signatures elsewhere. <_<