A South Carolina man voting at the Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire Department was told he would not be allowed to vote wearing his Donald Trump T-shirt.
Todd Price, who was also in the queue to vote, told CNN that the man was asked to remove his shirt before he was able to cast his ballot in the 2018 midterms.
The man was apparently unfazed by the request, and simply took his shirt off and entered the booth without a top on.
“When this gentleman got up to the poll worker, they told him he couldn’t come in with his shirt on, so he just took it off, tossed it down on the ground there and voted shirtless and then came out and put it back on,” Price explained to the network.
According to South Carolina law, voters are not allowed to “distribute any campaign material within 200 feet of the polling place, and that includes clothing,” according to WFAB9. But as South Carolina Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire points out, the man’s shirt did not actually violate the election rules given that Donald Trump is not actually on the midterm ballot.
“The shirt in question didn’t relate to a candidate in this election,” Whitmire explained. “It’s an understandable mistake. Poll managers are volunteers that are working hard out there, trying to do the right thing. If you closely read the handbook on campaign material, that didn’t violate the definition of material.”
But while Whitmire seemed to think there was no violation, other officials took a very different view of the shirt. Sandy Martin, director of Horry County Voter Registration and Elections, argued that it didn’t matter that Trump is not on the ballot, as the shirt constitutes political and campaign material regardless.
A number of other states also have bans on campaign material at voting stations. Just five months ago the U.S. Supreme Court removed Minnesota’s century-long ban on any political attire that is worn to the polls. Other states who still have similar laws include the likes of Delaware, Kansas, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont. South Carolina’s restriction is particularly strict on what candidates may wear to the polls.
While the removal of these laws in Minnesota has brought into question the bans in other states, so far nothing has been done to remove them, and they are definitely still being observed at voting stations.