Electioneering and voting: What’s legal when heading to the polls?

When the polls open, people might try to influence someone’s vote all the way until they cast it.
When the polls open, people might try to influence someone’s vote all the way until they cast it.(KWTX)
Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 10:21 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Many have seen the ads, the signs, and the slogans leading up to Election Day, and it might not stop even while in line to vote.

But what’s legal and what isn’t?

When the polls open, people might try to influence someone’s vote all the way until they cast it.

Wearing political clothing while voting is one thing. Going to a polling location to advocate for a candidate or a position is another.

If someone’s going to do the latter, there’s rules they need to follow.

Freedom of speech doesn’t stop on Election Day. That means a person is free to wear any kind of political clothing when they go to vote.

“Election officers are not trained to throw anybody out of the polls just because they’re wearing a T-shirt that has a certain campaign slogan, or advocates for a certain position, or a particular candidate,” Erran Huber, spokesperson for the Board of Elections said. “We want to make sure that everyone has the chance and the right to vote.”

Huber said the Board of Elections is more concerned about everyone having the opportunity to vote, rather than what people are wearing.

However, that doesn’t mean everything is fair game.

Electioneering, which is advocating for a position or candidate, isn’t allowed at polling locations.

“If you are trying to have that electioneering, that advocacy for that candidate, that you are far enough away from the polls,” Huber said.

You have to be at least 100 feet away from the entrance of a polling location. That’s usually about the distance to the sidewalk.

“You can have your signs, cheer for your candidates, and make whatever kind of political kind of speech that you want,” Huber said. “But once you move inside 100 feet from a polling location entrance, that’s when we start to get into electioneering.”

On Sunday, the FBI tweeted a warning about voter suppression, which is intentionally deceiving qualified voters to prevent them from voting.

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That can mean spreading misinformation about the time, manner, or place of voting. The FBI said to report it if someone sees it happening.

The Kentucky Attorney General’s Office also has a hotline for people to call to report election fraud. That number is 1 (800) 328-VOTE (8683).

They’ve gotten 73 pre-election day complaints, with 14 of them coming out Jefferson County, which is the most in the state.

“Jefferson County being the largest county, by definition, by population, we’re going to receive the most number of concerns,” Huber said. “Anything that has been brought to our attention has been addressed and addressed as quickly as possible.”

Huber said they’re expecting a relatively smooth voting experience on Tuesday.