Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Does Freedom of Speech apply?

This is a quick article about something that is all over the news, and just about everyone's lips today here in Hampton Roads, Virginia. (A metropolitan area made up of the Cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and Newport News.)
We are home to Langley Air Force Base, and the largest Naval Installation on the continent. (If it's not, it sure seems like it from all the uniforms and ships we see.)

Virginia upholds ban on political clothing at polling places

October 14, 2008 - 2:09pm

Darci Marchese, WTOP Radio

WASHINGTON - When you go to the polls in some parts of the region - watch what you wear.

If you live and vote in Virginia, you are not allowed to wear any politically themed clothing, like buttons or T-shirts, to the polls. The rule, according to Valerie Jones of the Virginia State Board of Elections, is that there can be no campaigning within 40 feet of a polling place entrance, including from people going to the polls to vote.

The American Civil Liberties Union argued that political clothing is protected under the First Amendment, but the Board of Elections voted Tuesday to uphold the ban, saying the wanted to keep polling places as neutral as possible.

The same ban applies to polling places in D.C. If someone is to show up with politically themed clothing on, the voter will be asked to either remove or cover up the item.

In Maryland, voters are welcome to wear clothing or buttons, but the same cannot be said for poll workers, election judges, or others stationed inside a polling place.

(Copyright 2008 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)

Yes I just infriged something, but only a little. I gave them credit for everything...And it was a nicely written synopsis of the problem.

Virginia is often called the "Mother of Presidents." Our great state was the birthplace of 8 U.S. Presidents. Williamsburg was pivotal in much of the early governmnent of our young nation. Jamestown is where it all started in 1607.
But I think that more importantly, eight of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were Virginians. These eight of the fifty-six men put their necks on the chopping block, did so to effect change; real change, not media hype and euphemisms.

I have none of the faith my forefathers had going into their era of change. They were prepared to fight and die to achieve it. While I would gladly do the same, I don't think that either candidate is giving me a cause to believe in. Sadly, I will still be required to sacrifice for either of the to achieve their goals.

But why should I have to sacrifice my freedom to voice my opinion? If people are going to riot at the polls over a tshirt, what are they prepared to do if the "wrong" candidate gets elected? And if this isn't a violation of our freedom of speech, it may well be a breach of something we hold more dear;our unalienable Rights. We have the right to pursue happiness. If a t-shirt or button or banner can open the eyes of one that is blind, they should be exposed to it. I say this without naming my side in this election.

Poll workers should be neutral. They are working, even if in a volunteer status, and the dress should be uniform. Would allowing people to wear items supporting their candidate hinder the process? Or could it possibly motivate others to vote? The masses are followers, all they need is an example to follow.

Sadly, their penchant for doing the wrong thing to easily, leads us to this point. Our "voices" stifled.

They may be able to prevent me from wearing my political cross on my chest at the polling place, but the rest of my day still belongs to me.

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