© 2021 WOSU Public Media
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
News

Ohio Won't Turn Away Voters If They Violate Law On Wearing Political Clothing

A view of an Ohio voting sticker at the Hamilton County Board of Elections to participate in early voting, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Norwood, Ohio.
Aaron Doster
/
Associated Press
A view of an Ohio voting sticker at the Hamilton County Board of Elections to participate in early voting, Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020, in Norwood, Ohio.

If you wear your red "Make America Great Again" hat or your "Ridin' with Biden" t-shirt to the polls this fall, you could be asked to remove it or turn your shirt inside out. Ohio law says you cannot enter a polling place wearing any article of clothing that advocates for or against a candidate.

However, anyone who insists on wearing political gear might not necessarily be turned away.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose says Ohio law specifically prohibits people from wearing items with political statements into polling places.

“They are going to be told that they are violating the law if they come wearing a shirt or a hat or anything else," LaRose says. "They may be asked to remove that clothing. But if they insist, just like with masks, we can’t turn someone away.”

That suggests the law is not enforceable. Because he doesn’t want poll workers to give them “the attention they are looking for by creating a bigger stir than is necessary," LaRose says voters who insist on wearing political clothing will still be allowed to cast a ballot.

Under its statewide mask mandate, Ohio also requires voters to wear face coverings at polling places or early voting centers. If a voter shows up without one, poll workers will offer them one for free, or offer them curbside service so they can vote from their car. But if voters refuse, LaRose has said they must still be allowed to vote.