Close Close Comment Creative Commons Donate Email Add Email Facebook Instagram Facebook Messenger Mobile Nav Menu Podcast Print RSS Search Secure Twitter WhatsApp YouTube

In Pennsylvania Voting, Words Matter. Fashion Doesn’t.

What did you wear to the polling place today?

Among the potential problems with voting, fashion would seem to rank fairly low on the scale. Yet many state laws specifically prohibit voters from wearing shirts or hats bearing the names or slogans of political candidates in polling places.

When they do, in most cases voters are asked either to remove or cover up such items, but not all states have a blanket prohibition. In Pennsylvania, where state law prohibits overt electioneering for a candidate, voters can wear clothing that has a candidate's name or slogan on it. But not all poll workers seem to be aware of that rule.

Multiple callers to the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline from Pennsylvania voters today said they were told they could not vote while wearing clothing with campaign themes or images. Many were told they would need to wear a jacket or other piece of clothing to obscure the offending article. Almost all of them reported they were then able to vote.

Pennsylvania law reads: "No person, when within the polling place, shall electioneer or solicit votes for any political party, political body or candidate, nor shall any written or printed matter be posted up within the said room, except as required by this act."

So it's not what you wear to the polls in Pennsylvania. It's what you say.

Protect Independent Journalism

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that produces nonpartisan, evidence-based journalism to expose injustice, corruption and wrongdoing. We were founded ten years ago to fill a growing hole in journalism: newsrooms were (and still are) shrinking, and legacy funding models failing. Deep-dive reporting like ours is slow and expensive, and investigative journalism is a luxury in many newsrooms today — but it remains as critical as ever to democracy and our civic life. A decade (and five Pulitzer Prizes) later, ProPublica has built the largest investigative newsroom in the country. Our work has spurred reform through legislation, at the voting booth, and inside our nation’s most important institutions.

This story you’ve just finished was funded by our readers and we hope it inspires you to make a gift to ProPublica so that we can publish more investigations like this one that holds people in power to account and produces real change.

Your donation will help us ensure that we can continue this critical work. From the Trump Administration, criminal justice, health care, immigration and so much more, we are busier than ever covering stories you won’t see anywhere else. Make your gift of any amount today and join the tens of thousands of ProPublicans across the country, standing up for the power of independent journalism to produce real, lasting change. Thank you.

Donate Now

Portrait of Derek Willis

Derek Willis

Derek Willis is a news applications developer at ProPublica, focusing on politics and elections.

About Electionland

ProPublica’s Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Our coalition of newsrooms around the country are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more.

Questions? Read our FAQ.

Follow Electionland

Partners

and 50+ local and national newsrooms. Sign up to become a partner here.

Technical Partner

More Election Tools

The User’s Guide to Democracy

Congress works for you. Here’s how to be a better boss.

Represent

See what your representatives in Congress say and do.

ProPublica on IFTTT

Do more with ProPublica data and automated notifications.

Latest Stories from ProPublica

Current site Current page