AK Voters Beware: No Political Buttons, No Cell Phones at the Polls, Election Officials Say

November 2, 2010 - 4:15 PM

Polls in Alaska

A ballot is inserted into a voting machine Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010, in Girdwood, Alaska. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Alaska voters beware: Don't sport a tee-shirt or a tattoo that says “Joe Miller” or “Lisa Murkowski”  or “Scott McAdams” to the polls or you will be asked to cover them up before you can get in to vote.

 Under Alaska law, you would be engaging in "electioneering" -- a level three criminal offense. 

But wearing a Miller Beer hat is probably okay, according to the Alaska State Division of Elections (ASDE).

Voters in Alaska Tuesday were being asked to choose whether Democratic nominee Scott McAdams, Republican Joe Miller, or write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski would go to the Senate.

According to the ASDE, Alaska anti-electioneering laws prohibit “discussion of any political party, candidate, or political issue by election board members during the time the polls are open,” and prohibit anyone “persuading a person to vote for or against a candidate, proposition, or question, in or within 200 feet of any polling place or entrance to a polling place.”

That means no buttons, no bumper stickers, no signs and even no loud cellphone conversations at the polls that mention those names, ASDE says. 

In fact, anything even containing the names of the candidates needed to be covered within 200 feet of polling places, ASDE Director Gail Fenumiai told CNSNews.com. 

Contrary to reports, however, wearing a Miller Beer hat to the polls is likely okay because it is  a commercial endorsement, and not political, Fenumiai noted. 

'I do not believe that would fall under the category of political persuasion," Fenumiai said.

But sporting a tattoo with Joe Miller's name -- or any of the candidates -- should be covered up, Fenumiai said.

In fact, some actions that may not seem to be election offenses actually are offenses, according to the ASDE.

“For instance, State law prohibits wearing a campaign button ("Vote for Mary Smith") within 200 feet of the polling place,” the ASDE Web site says.

Even a quick cellphone call to a spouse while at the ballot box is electioneering.

“Telling someone to vote in a certain manner while within 200 feet of the polling place is also considered an election offense. Cell phones are becoming quite common. During some elections, voters in the voting booth have used their cell phones to call someone to ask advice on how to vote. Since others can overhear the conversation, it is wise to prohibit the use of cell phones in the polling place,” the Web site said.