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How the Minnesota SCOTUS case could affect what Californians wear to the polls




Juan Alonso of El Sereno votes at a polling place inside Barrio Action Youth & Family Center on Tuesday afternoon, June 7, 2016 during the California primary election.
Juan Alonso of El Sereno votes at a polling place inside Barrio Action Youth & Family Center on Tuesday afternoon, June 7, 2016 during the California primary election.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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Since the early 20th century, Minnesota has had a rule against wearing political buttons or insignia at or near its polling places.

The law is meant to keep electioneering away from the polls. But that law is being challenged now in the Supreme Court. This stems from a 2010 incident where Minnesota voters wearing Tea Party insignia were told to cover it before casting their ballots.

Here in the Golden State, our rules are less stringent. According to the California Voting Law Compliance Handbook, voters are restricted from wearing clothing or accessories that advocate for a particular candidate. But wearing a shirt displaying “Down with Liberals,” for example, would be permitted.

The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday and there were a lot of questions. What if the voter is wearing a button with a rainbow on it? Or the 2nd Amendment on their shirt? So how could this case push the boundaries of free speech for other states like California?  

Guest:

Rick Hasen, professor specializing in election law at UC Irvine and author of the forthcoming book “The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption,” (Yale University Press, 2018) set to release next week; he tweets @rickhasen