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Election Protection is WKSU’s community information initiative focused on access, policy and community resources around voting this November.

What You Can and Can't Wear to the Polls

Summit County Board of Elections.jpg
Jon Nungesser
Early, in-person voting is still going through Monday in all 88 Ohio counties -- usually at Boards of Elections, such as the one in Summit County.

Thinking about showing love for a candidate or issue when you cast your ballot? Think again. Your support could trigger a talk with a poll worker.

Ohio law prohibits electioneering - attempting to influence a person’s vote - unless they’re 100 feet away from a polling place, or 10 feet away from the last person in line. The distance, dubbed the “neutral zone,’ is marked by two small American flags.

Once a voter reaches the neutral zone, they can't wear anything with a name, slogan or insignia directly associated with a candidate or ballot issue.

But slogans with political implications, like Black Lives Matter, or All Lives Matter, are allowed, says Case University Law professor Jonathan Entin.

Usually, that doesn’t speak directly to any particular office or any particular issue that is on the ballot for people to vote on. That’s the basis for giving the state the authority to limit electioneering in the polling place. ”

Your political gear won’t keep you from voting. But you might be asked to obscure the message, says Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association executive director Bob Cornwell.

“We would ask them to remove the shirt or turn it inside out so that that isn’t there. If they do not want to comply with that, we would offer them a curbside opportunity to vote .”

Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Absentee ballots can be dropped off at boards of elections until 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. They cannot be dropped off at any other voting location.

Afi Scruggs is an award-winning writer/journalist and author who lives in Cleveland, Ohio. Her career started in 1983 as a freelancer in Richmond, Virginia. After that, she worked at newspapers in Washington, D.C., Jackson, Mississippi, and Dayton, Ohio, before settling in Cleveland.