Hogeye Bill, Oct. 22, 2012

Voting Can Be Fun:
How I Nearly Got Disenfranchised
For Wearing A Pot Leaf T-Shirt to the Polls

Voting, like the violence it substitutes for, is permissible in self-defense. So I decided to go “early vote” against taxes, prohibitions, and whatever other government depredations the rulers are trying to pull off. I put on my clothes, including a 20-30 year old t-shirt with a big old marijuana leaf on the front, with the lettering “Legalize Today, Get High Tonight.” Just as I was leaving to walk to the Washington County Court House, I thought, “They might not like my t-shirt,” so I grabbed a miniature recording device just in case they hassled me.

I got through the police/metal detector checkpoint okay, and went up the stairs to the County Clerk’s office where people vote. At the first desk I signed the early voting application, and turned to go to the voting booth. I was intercepted by a poll worker, who asked me to turn my shirt inside out because, she claimed, I was electioneering. I explained that, unfortunately, marijuana legalization was not on the ballot so it was not. She asked me into an office, and called the county clerk (and two burly police officers) into the room. Here’s the transcript:

Hogeye Bill: Okay now, here’s the deal. Legalization is not on the table. I wish it were. She’d have a point if legalization was on the ballot. It is not. This shirt is 20 years old and was made before medical marijuana was even an issue. Now let’s make an analogy. Suppose I had a car on my shirt. Is she going to say I’m promoting the highway tax, question 2? No, she’s not. Or an oil company company (logo.) It’s just a leaf, like a car. This is not campaigning at all. (Indicating my hemp leaf belt buckle.) Wearing a hemp hat is not campaigning at all. Because the issue (on the ballot) is narrow, about medical marijuana and setting up a fascist regulatory agency.

County Clerk: And I can see your point. However, when we train our poll workers, when we talk about what electioneering is ... for instance if you came in and were wearing a Bush-Cheney t-shirt or an ”I miss Bill” t-shirt, or anything that referenced a political party, or an issue, or anything like that, we consider that electioneering.

HB: What would be a t-shirt that would reference an issue rather than a party or candidate?

CC: For instance, when we have a school election, if the teachers come in and it’s for a millage, and they’re wearing their school uniform, because they are part of the school district seeking the millage - even if they come in with a Holcombe Elementary t-shirt...

HB: If they had something that said “Support Education” are you going to make them turn it inside out?

CC: If they come in and had a t-shirt that said “Holcombe Elementary School” and that school district was asking for a millage, and they represent the school that’s asking for the school millage, then yeah, we do.

HB: Of course, this is nothing like that. This says nothing about any political issue except legalization, which isn’t on the table.

CC: I think we’re talking semantics here. Someone who generally saw your t-shirt and knew that medical marijuana was on the ballot … that’s the assumption they’re going to jump to. And we have to guard against that. And so, you may be well versed in legalization of marijuana, and the benefits of marijuana - your hemp hat and all of that - you’re well versed in that. But the typical voter here is not geared into as much as you are.

HB: But I don’t have to cater to “the typical voter.” I’m just saying this does not electioneer, objectively.

CC: But we’re saying, in our eyes, it IS electioneering. Because it is very prominent, it is very … that’s a marijuana leaf on your shirt, and its says “legalize today.” And the medical marijuana act is what they are talking about, and I know that the two …

HB: So if I had a car on my shirt, would you make me take it off or turn it inside out? Because that’s promoting the highway tax, right? It’s the same thing, exactly. Or if I had a Texaco t-shirt, or Conoco, or any kind of oil company or anything about roads - you’re not going to make someone … a trucker - you’re not going to make someone take off a trucker’s hat! (laugh)

CC: We make sure the bus drivers … We’re just trying to guard against anyone accusing us of electioneering, or not keeping anyone else from electioneering.

HB: I understand. So, are you going to let me vote or not?

CC: Yeah, you can vote. We’re just asking you to …

HB: I am not going to take off my shirt or turn it around. Now are you going to let me vote or not. Because I think that’s a way over-restrictive policy, and, if you have a right to vote, then you are violating it.


CC: I think, we’ll err on the side of caution and let you vote in the office here, and take the issue to the Secretary of State’s office for their guidance. As long as you leave the building, unless you have other business here.

HB: No. I plan to vote and leave. Okay. A wise decision!

CC: But you see the point we’re trying to make, though.

HB: Yeah. You’re trying to be overly restrictive. … But I understand. It’s your job. You have to be overly restrictive. You’re a bureaucrat.

So they let me vote with a paper ballot in the office, and then I left, escorted by the policemen. BTW the officers indicated that the door cop at the metal detector should have intercepted me, so if you, too, decide to mess with the statists, you can either make a ruckus at the courthouse door, turn it inside out for the doorman and then reverse it before you get to the clerk’s office, or put on the t-shirt after you clear the front door metal detector.

I voted “straight ticket” radical libertarian. I didn’t vote for ANY candidates, since I oppose anyone ruling me. (Or my friends and neighbors.) I voted against making it easier for towns to tax (NO on issue 1), against increasing highway robbery (NO on issue 2), against prohibition (YES on issues 3-5, loosening of gambling and pot prohibition.) So out of a three page ballot, I voted on five things and left the rest blank.

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