Answer Man: Newspaper clippings in the voting booth?

November 7, 2018

Editor’s note: A reader asks about what’s acceptable in the voting booth. Luckily, the Answer Man fielded this same question in November 2010.

Dear Answer Man, quick! I need an answer. The years are growing long and the memory is getting short. Can I take a newspaper clipping into the voting booth?

I made several calls and got distinctly different answers from elections officials.

First I was told you can take a campaign flier or clipping into the voting booth as long as you don’t flash it around or leave it behind. Another elections official said you can only bring in a sample ballot, not a newspaper clipping.

The Minnesota Secretary of State website specifically says you can take a sample ballot into the voting booth, but does not list other printed materials.

I called the Secretary of State’s elections hotline, eventually talked to a living, breathing human being and was told you can only take a sample ballot into the polling place, nothing more.

While no one’s going to peek into your voting booth to see if you have a crib sheet, the letter of the law apparently says to leave your campaign literature or PB clippings at home.

It’s explicitly illegal to wear political pins, hats or other attention-getting campaign gear “at or near” the polls. “The Office of the Secretary of State strongly encourages all voters to remove any campaign buttons, T-shirts, etc., before arriving at the polls. Election judges will inform all voters displaying campaign material to conceal or remove it, which may mean taking off a button, zipping up a coat and keeping it zipped, or going into the bathroom to turn a T-shirt inside out.”

Just like in grade school! Don’t wear your “Yes, We Can” or “Had Enough Hope and Change?” T-shirt to the polls or you’ll get sent to the principal’s office.

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