- Statement -
Secretary Bysiewicz Clarifies Law Prohibiting Campaigning Within 75 Feet of Polling Place on Election Day
Hartford: Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz today issued the following memo to Registrars of Voters and Town Clerks in Connecticut regarding the Connecticut General Statutes Section 9-236 that prohibits campaigning within 75 feet of any polling place on Election Day.
TO: All Registrars of Voters and Town Clerks
RE: STATE LAW PROHIBITING CAMPAIGNING WITHIN 75 FEET OF POLLING PLACE ON ELECTION DAY
Over the past few days, there have been several media reports suggesting that this office issued a directive to local election officials that voters who wear World Wrestling Entertainment (“WWE”) t-shirts, hats or other apparel to the polls should be turned away from the polls. These reports misstate the law and misconstrue the statements from this office.
Section 9-236(a) of the Connecticut General Statutes states: “On the day of any primary, referendum or election, no person shall solicit in behalf of or in opposition to the candidacy of another or himself or in behalf of or in opposition to any question being submitted at the election or referendum, or loiter or peddle or offer any advertising matter, ballot or circular to another person within a radius of seventy-five feet of any outside entrance in use as an entry to any polling place or in any corridor, passageway or other approach leading from any such outside entrance to such polling place or in any room opening upon any such corridor, passageway or approach….”
In applying this statute, this office has never issued a blanket prohibition or declaration prohibiting any particular type of apparel. The only clothing, items or apparel prohibited by Section 9-236(a) are those that “solicit” for or against a candidate or ballot question. Each local moderator must assess each situation on a case-by-case basis. In past elections, this office has consistently recommended that voters wearing t-shirts bearing the likeness or campaign logo of candidates, be asked to button their jackets when other voters have complained.
In preparing for this election, be advised that it is the position of this office that simply wearing WWE apparel at the polls, including apparel with the trade name or logo of the WWE or the name or photograph of any WWE entertainer that does not display the name or photograph of Linda McMahon, U.S. Senate candidate, or the name or logo of Ms. McMahon’s campaign does not trigger a violation of Section 9-236.
Further, even when an individual is found to be wearing campaign material in violation of the 75 foot restrictions, they should never be told to leave the polls. They should be simply asked to remove or cover the item or apparel in question. Once this is accomplished, the individual should be allowed to vote. Once the individual leaves the polls and is outside 75 feet, they are free to display their support for the candidate of their choice.
We hope that you find this helpful. Of course, please call us if you’d like to discuss this further, and as always, we are available for consultation on Election Day.Av Harris
Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz
(860) 509-6255 ofc
(860) 463-5939 cell