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Early voter pulled out of line for wearing 'Black Lives Matter' shirt


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) —When Zack Arias wore his Black Lives Matter shirt to cast his ballot in Forsyth County, Georgia, he knew it might raise some eyebrows.

But he never dreamed it would cause him to get pulled out of the early voting line.

“When the poll worker stopped me in line, I was really kind of shocked, but I thought alright here we go, so I pulled out my phone and started recording,” explains Arias.

A poll worker told Arias he couldn't wear his BLM shirt into the polls, citing a law that forbids candidate campaign material beyond a certain point.

“Black Lives Matter is not on the ballot, it's not a party, it's not a slogan of any person on the ballot so I was well within my rights to wear my shirt,” Arias said.

As it turns out Arias was well within his rights.

Tennessee has a similar law, and a poll worker in Memphis got fired for making that same mistake.

You may have noticed signs outside polling locations prohibiting “the display of campaign posters, signs or other campaign materials, distribution of campaign materials, and solicitation of votes for or against any person, political party, or position on a question” within 100 feet of the entrance.

State Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins explains why to FOX 17 News.

“I think it's to avoid confrontation and allow someone to vote and not have to worry about someone standing in front of them saying, ‘look at my cap, look at my shirt,’ this is the candidate you need to vote for.”

Goins says the law has been on the books since 1972, and got upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court 20 years later.

But constitutional attorney Daniel Horwitz argues, that doesn't mean we should keep it.

“Keep in mind this statute doesn't ban heckling, it bans solicitation of votes but there is all sorts of disruptive conduct that is not prohibited by this statute,” Horwitz said. “My personal opinion is the statute isn't really doing much, it's not satisfying it's purpose.”

Horwitz believes laws like this cause more issues, than they prevent. Over the weekend, President Trump supporters were asked to remove their MAGA hats before voting in Davidson County. They complied, but violators of this law can get arrested, as it is a criminal offense.

Arias’ message to voters is to always know your rights.

“I just hope the person who pulled me out of line just isn't going to do that with anyone else ever again,” Arias said.


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