Voters could be fined for violating electioneering rules, officials say

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HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Wearing apparel to a polling place supporting a political candidate is illegal and, in the middle of a pandemic, that rule also applies to facemasks. 

“Electioneering in Texas is any activity that can be construed as supporting or opposing any candidate or proposal or measure that’s on the ballot,” said Remi Garza, Cameron County Elections Administrator.

Garza says electioneering is illegal inside polling locations. Anything from t-shirts to hats supporting a candidate is prohibited, and with facemasks becoming the new normal, Garza says the same rules apply. 

“If someone has a facemask that has one of the candidates’ names on it we’ll ask them to remove the mask and put on one that doesn’t have anything on it,” said Garza.  

Many voters headed to the polls said they did not know the clothing guidelines. Those restrictions were put in place to prevent voter influence, but some voters said it wouldn’t affect them. 

“I had my mind set on who I was going to vote for already, so whether you wear, represent or not to me it does not make a difference,” said Alfredo Silva Jr.

Other voters also said people should be able to wear what they’d like without feeling like their clothing will affect someone else’s opinion.  

“If you’re going to be affected that much by what somebody is wearing, then I don’t think you’re mature enough to vote,” said Hayden Hovda.

Garza said while he understands people’s need for freedom of expression, he reminds the public that it is state law and you could be fined for electioneering inside a polling location. 

Election officials also remind the public that you cannot campaign unless you are 100 feet from a polling location.

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