Howard County Blog

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Anyone favor more regulation of electioneering at the polls?

State law prohibits electioneering within 100 feet of a polling place's entrance. Once in a while, someone will introduce legislation moving this limit back to an extent that would effectively eliminate pollworking (which, at bottom, everyone has to do if only to cancel out pollwork activity by the opposition).
Having, of necessity, been involved in pollwork activity over the years, I know that various voters react to this in different ways. Some don't mind it and even welcome it if it enables them to learn something about a candidate for a low level office or some ballot question. At the other extreme are voters who will tell you to stay away from them or it wouldn't be beneficial to your candidate. Wise pollworkers will take their word for it. Sometimes their body language will be enough to send you a message. An overly-aggressive pollworker can hurt their candidate's cause, just as an extrovert or social animal who seemingly knows how far to push it can be helpful.
How many out there would favor effectively doing away with pollworkers by establishing, say, a 300 foot limit? Presently, it's seen by some as a necessary evil and by others as freedom of political speech. Do you see it as good or bad and would you favor changing the limits so as to make it impractical?

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I question how effective the field of signs, as well as poll workers, are in elections. That said, it's political speech and should be allowed. The current limit is too short.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Di Zou said...

For lesser known candidates in smaller races, it does help. I know it helped me. However I know I do annoy a lot of people with electioneering.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

100 feet is a reasonable distance to keep the polls free of interference. If someone wants to exercise their First Amendment right to express their political opinion in a public place beyond that, they should certainly be allowed to do so.

Pushing the distance further away than that smacks of recent impositions of "free speech zones", antithetically named anti-First Amendment remote seclusion zones used to isolate and suppress dissenting opinion.

Imposing greater distances would thereby tilt free speech rights for reaching the public away from the general public itself and more towards the exclusive domain of media outlets' editorials and reports which, due to relaxed anti-monopoly laws, are being more and more concentrated in ownership.

It would also tilt elections more towards candidates with deep pockets to afford advertising via those media outlets vs. candidates with more grassroots support that can muster polling place representation on election day.

Getting the picture?

1:05 AM  
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5:28 AM  

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