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News Link • Free Speech

Tea Party shirts now ok at voting polls as long there is no "party".

• New Times
 Thanks to the settlement, as long as the Tea Party isn't an actual political party, the shirts will be allowed, and the county has agreed to "implement objective standards at voting precincts to enforce the state electioneering law while protecting the voters' right to free speech."

According to the Goldwater Institute, "Coconino County's new rules define electioneering to provide that only conduct that advocates for or against a candidate, a political party, or an issue on the ballot may be banned at the polling site. The County has also agreed to provide additional training to poll workers for objective enforcement of election laws and to protect against discrimination in the polling place."

Goldwater attorney Diane Cohen tells New Times that while singling out Tea Party garb is unconstitutional, and Coconino County has agreed to implement new rules when it comes to what's not allowed at polling places, the real problem is the state's broad definition of "electioneering."

Arizona law bans "electioneering"  within 75 feet of any polling place, but the term is very loosely defined in state statute.

Cohen says the state needs to amend the law to more narrowly define what "electioneering" actually is -- something, she says, is falling on deaf ears.

"The secretary of state's been nowhere on this," she says.
The state as a whole has some work to do when it comes to deciding what "electioneering" actually is, but in Coconino County, Diane Wickberg can now wear her Tea Party shirts wherever -- and whenever -- she wants.

"I'm grateful Coconino County recognizes we do not give up all of our rights to free speech when we cast an election ballot," Wickberg says in a statement from the Goldwater Institute. "Now, voters will know our fundamental freedoms are protected as we carry out our civic responsibility at the polling booth."

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