Group urges voters to wear illegal tea party garb to polls
The Minnesota Majority, a group that “works to promote traditional values” in public policy, is urging voters to wear tea party apparel to the polls despite a court ruling prohibiting it, Talking Points Memo reports.
The tea party shirts and buttons read “Please ID Me” in reference to a statewide voter ID law that conservatives have sought for years. Currently, voters in Minnesota do not have to present identification before they vote.
In addition, the Northstar Tea Party Patriots wanted to wear shirts that read, “Don’t tread on me,” and “Fiscal Responsibility, Limited Government, Free Markets” along with the tea party logo.
Election Integrity Watch, a coalition of groups including Minnesota Majority and the North Star Tea Party Patriots, filed suit against the state of Minnesota last week to allow their members to wear the buttons and shirts at polling places throughout the state.
According to Minnesota law, “A person may not display campaign material, post signs, ask, solicit, or in any manner try to induce or persuade a voter within a polling place…on primary or election day to vote for or refrain from voting for a candidate or a ballot question… A political badge, political button, or other political insignia may not be worn at or about the polling place on primary or election day.”
“Clearly, these buttons are not about any specific political candidate, party or ballot question,” Jeff Davis, president of Minnesota Majority, told the Minnesota Independent. “This ban is outside state law and a clear violation of our First Amendment rights under the United States Constitution.”
Federal Judge Joan Ericksen rejected the lawsuit filed by the Election Integrity Watch after a three-hour hearing on Monday.
“The buttons are designed to affect the actual voting process at the polls by intimating that voters are required to show identification before voting,” writes Eriksen in her decision. “This intimation could confuse voters and election officials and cause voters to refrain from voting because of increased delays or the misapprehension that identification is required.”
“The tea party apparel communicates support for the Tea Party movement which is associated with certain candidates and political views,” she added.
Ericksen was nominated to the United States District Court for District of Minnesota by President George W. Bush in 2002.
In an email obtained by Talking Points Memo Tuesday, the Minnesota Majority urged its members to wear the prohibited items anyway.
“For now, we are recommending that you proceed with wearing your Election Integrity buttons or Tea Party apparel to the polls, knowing you are within your rights, but don’t allow yourself to be disenfranchised,” said the email.
If confronted by election officials, the email tells its members that, “You can simply remove or cover the challenged item and you’ll be allowed to vote, or you can refuse and demand your right to vote and the election judge will allow you to vote, while also recording your name and you could be charged with a petty misdemeanor.”
Election Integrity Watch was formed to watch for and report election fraud, but critics say the group is engaged in voter intimidation.
The group is offering $500 rewards for information leading to voter fraud convictions.
“We are putting a price on the heads of anyone who would attempt to organize people with the intent of cheating in our election,” said Davis.