Can you be turned away from a polling location in New York State based on what you're wearing? Early voting is underway in New York State. Polls are open from now through Sunday, November 6, 2022, and election day is quickly approaching on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. Key races in the state include Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller, and a U.S. Senate seat. Before you head to the polls to cast your vote, you should know what you can and cannot wear.
Does New York State Law Ban You From Wearing Certain Things While Voting?
The answer is yes. In New York State, there is a law that prohibits you from wearing certain items to the polls to cast your vote,
no political banner, button, poster or placard shall be allowed in or upon the polling place or within such one hundred foot radial.
In layman's terms, you cannot wear any apparel with a candidate's name or political slogan on it. If you do, you will be asked to remove it before being given your ballot. If you wear a 'Make America Great Again' hat or item, you may be asked to remove it, even though Donald Trump isn't on the ballot. Since other political candidates who may be on the ballot have adopted the slogan, election officials ask you to remove it. According to Syracuse.com,
Clothing or buttons that reflect political viewpoints do not violate New York law unless the issue is on the ballot, state officials have said. For example, voters could wear a Second Amendment or Marriage Equality T-shirt unless there is a ballot proposal on that issue.
To be on the safe side, you could remove anything that may be considered political during the time you enter the polling location. Or, you can try your luck and see if polling officials say anything to you.
New York State Wants To Make A Huge Change To Voting Laws
With the mid-term election less than two weeks away, New York State is looking to make a major change to the state constitution. While the law won't affect this election, it could have a significant impact on future elections.
Assembly Bill A10633 seeks to remove a barrier to voting. The bill, if it becomes a law, would amend the state constitution to,
Delete the requirement that registration for purposes of voting be completed at least ten days before election day; provides that laws be made to adequately safeguard against deception in the exercise of the right of suffrage.
The change to the current law would allow voter registration organizations and political parties to register voters right up to the election. This could give an advantage to certain organizations.
It appears that the bill still needs a Senate version. Similar bills have been introduced in 2009-2010, 2011-2012, 2013-2014, 2015-2016, 2017-2018, and 2019-2020 sessions. The current bill is in the Assembly Judiciary Committee as of now.