What should I wear to vote?
Most Texans don’t give much thought to this as they go to the polls. However, a recent court decision has prompted the addition of more restrictions on what is acceptable. Ahead of the November 2023 election counties issued advisories like this one from Montgomery County to their election workers.
One aspect that may come as a surprise is the restriction on specific clothing items when entering polling locations. In Texas, guidelines are in place to uphold the integrity and impartiality of the voting process. As outlined in the Texas Election Code, Section 61.010, voters are restricted from wearing certain clothing or accessories that display political messages or endorsements within 100 feet of the entrance.
The clothing restrictions primarily target attire explicitly supporting or opposing a candidate, political party, or ballot measure. This includes campaign hats, shirts, buttons, and even face masks with political messages. While previously restricted to banning attire with candidates on the ballot, the new restrictions include all candidates from anywhere at any time.
The Presiding Judge of the polling location is responsible for deciding what attire is deemed inappropriate, so be prepared. They have a duty to protect voters from influence within the 100 feet that is their territory and some may be more strict than others. Voters may be asked to cover up or remove any prohibited items before entering the polling location.
While there are limitations on clothing with political messages, voters are still allowed to express their patriotism and civic pride through general, non-political attire. Wear clothing that showcases the Texas spirit, such as state flag shirts or accessories. The key is to avoid clothing that explicitly endorses or opposes a particular candidate or political party (like donkeys or elephants).
As you vote, understanding and respecting the clothing restrictions at polling locations is crucial. The next time you head to the polls, dress thoughtfully.