Kennedy Campaign Staffer Violates State Election Law

Last week, Melina Kennedy’s campaign sent out an email discussing her pre-primary campaign events. We did not pay much attention to it since it was sent on Good Friday and, while we are political junkies, we spent the day focusing on other things.

Last night, we took a closer look at the email and noticed there was a picture of Melina Kennedy voting early in the Clerk’s office.  What we found more interesting, however, was a campaign staffer standing behind her in line to vote wearing a Kennedy campaign sticker.  The staffer appears to be Jon Mills, Kennedy’s Communications Director.

For those of you not familiar with state election laws, you are not permitted to express “support or opposition to any candidate or political party or expressing approval or disapproval of any public question in any manner that could reasonably be expected to convey that support or opposition to another individual” while in a voting location.  It is called electioneering. 

The Indiana Code goes through the specific locations including the poll, the chute or “within an area in the office of the circuit court clerk or a satellite office of the circuit court clerk established under IC 3-11-10-26.3 used by an absentee voter board to permit an individual to cast an absentee ballot.”  Pretty clear that this applies to the voting location in the County Clerk’s office.

Guess County Clerk Beth White didn’t feel like enforcing the rules since she endorsed Kennedy last year.

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21 Responses to Kennedy Campaign Staffer Violates State Election Law

  1. If he was voting he’s allowed to wear it there. Otherwise it shouldn’t be in the voting area with it unless he has a watcher card.

  2. Paul, that is plain not true.

    It is not whether or not he can be there–he can be if he is voting or has a watcher card. He cannot be in there wearing a sticker for Melina Kennedy.

    Read the code. It says, you cannot be “expressing support or opposition to any candidate or political party or expressing approval or disapproval of any public question in any manner that could reasonably be expected to convey that support or opposition to another individual” in a polling location. That includes Clerk’s offices doing absentee voting.

    Anyone who has ever worked at a polling location knows this rule. It is actually a Class A Misdemenor. Check out page 7 of the traning for poll workers.

    http://www.in.gov/sos/elections/files/2011_Election_Day_Handbook(4).pdf

  3. Erin Rosenberg says:

    Paul’s point is that if he was there as a voter, not “working” the polling location, he can wear political things. Any voter can wear whatever they want in the polls and at the Clerk’s office. I realize that people often get confused on this and I’ve seen poll workers try to make voters cover t-shirts and such, but I believe the law you are referencing applies to campaign workers and poll workers, not voters. If you look at the exceptions, that should be pretty clear from my reading. I hope you are not suggesting that a voter could be prosecuted for wearing something supporting someone when they vote- the First Amendment might lead some to question that assertion. Key question- did he vote or was he there as a campaign staffer?

  4. Erin Rosenberg says:

    Also, that looks like a ballot in his hand. Can’t really tell, but that’s how it appears to me.

  5. Guys, the law does not only apply to poll workers or campaign volunteers. Campaign volunteers are not even allowed in the “chute.” If they are voting, they can enter but no one is to express support or opposition in a way that could convey that support or opposition to others.

    It does not say unless the person is voting or this section applies only to those working a polling location. You are not permitted to have anything that shows support or opposition where ballots are being cast. Period.

    Erin, the exceptions have nothing to do with what we are talking about. Look at the code.

  6. I agree with what Erin said. My understanding is that a voter is not prohibited from having partisan stuff on when they go to vote. A lot of times voters are wearing t-shirts with candidates names on them. We don’t make them take off their clothing to vote.

    Of course those people have to go straight in and out. Voters can’t linger around wearing partisan stuff talking to other voters.

    I changed my mind aobut the watcher comment. That person probably can’t have partisan stuff on except maybe simply identifying which campaign they are with.

    I think there would be a real Free Speech problem trying to tell a voter he/she couldn’t wear partisan stuff to go vote.

    It’s been awhile since I looked at the election law. I don’t know that WSP isn’t right regarding what the statutes say. Of course, if the law is never enforced against voters wearing partisan stuff, then that’s also an issue that plays against its enforcement even if it is on the books.

    Regardless if the man is not voting, he shouldn’t have been there. Election officials should have kept him out.

  7. Erin Rosenberg says:

    I did already and I am pretty sure you are incorrect, WSP. I am fairly positive electioneering and absolutely any misdemeanor charge does not apply to voters themselves, particularly not the simple act of a voter’s clothing and certainly not a button on clothing.

  8. Matt Stone says:

    If WSP’s argument is correct (and that’s a huge assumption), what boneheaded legislature and governor passed and signed such an anti-First Amendment law?

    • Anna says:

      adamBATTAGLIA Posted on whit, your pictures are ubivlbeeanle. sure, i’m really jealous but also REALLY JEALOUS. congrats on what seems to be a successful trip so far. can’t wait to see the show.

  9. Wurstnitemare says:

    Paul, as much as it pains me to tell you this, Robert is corrent

    • I noted that is possible. But the rule has never been enforced in 99% of the places I’ve ever worked on election day. I’ll have to actually look up the law. Dang it. I’d much rather just talk aboutit.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I have been told I couldn’t wear a campaign t-shirt in the polls and I had to turn it inside-out to go in and vote. Unless the polling person who told me was wrong I think you cannot wear materials that express support for a candidate. It is bad that they don’t even know at the clerk’s office. But surely you’re not calling for charges to be brought?

  11. Wurstnitemare says:

    Robert, I really do enjoy your post.You are absolutly correct on this issue. Great catch on your part.

  12. I want to be there when some male clerk tells a female campaign worker to take off her shirt if she wants to vote. That should be pretty fun.

    Now, I’ll have to actually look up the law. Who can I bill the time to?

  13. I dont’ agree with WSP after looking at the statute.

    First, I didni’t see anything regarding distinguishing voters from non-voters who are just hanging around. That’s always where we poll workers have drawn the line in terms of people wearing candidate clothing and uttons into the chute.

    The statute, however,does require “EXPRESSING approval or disapproval.” “Expressing” could well be interpreted as requriing more than simply wearing a button or a candidate’s shirt into the polling area. If that voter is not drawing attention to their candidate shirt or button verbally or nonverbally, are they really EXPRESSING their support for the candidate.

    If the legislature wanted to prohibit anyone from wearing candidate shirts or buttons in the voting area, they culd have simply said that was “electioneering.” Instead they used the word EXPRESSING. That means they intended something more than the passive act of wearing a candidate t-shirt or button.

    Thus, I don’t think simply wearing a candidate button or t- shirt into the voting area is electioering as the legislature obviously chose not to include passive activity when it used the worked “EXPRESSING.”

    Sec. 16. (a) As used in this section, “electioneering” includes expressing support or opposition to any candidate or political party or expressing approval or disapproval of any public question in any manner that could reasonably be expected to convey that support or opposition to another individual….

  14. Wurstnitemare says:

    Paul, You have been in Polling locations.It is quite common for a candidate and their team to all come in and vote early.This whole hting is much to do about nothing. Robert is reaching for straws,hes a smart dude, this is a light weight story and he knows it. IM more intereted in seeing a story here about all of the money that has come in from Roberts old bosses “trips” to India,Brazil,Miami and last but not least China.

    ROI 0%

    Now thats a story

  15. Proud Center Twp. Voter says:

    I assume that the voter in question is legally registered to vote at his current address. That is the election law that Republicans have difficulty understanding and are now trying to defend. That law is clear. I have worked the polls for many many years. Even a watcher cannot wear anything with a candidate’s name on it. A voter may carry literature into the poll, wear partisan clothing or button as long as the voter is there to vote, does so and leaves. Republicans have trouble with the first amendment also….so glad that I am not one!!

  16. We never said anyone should be prosecuted, we did say we believe it is a violation of the electioneering rule and should not have been allowed to happen.

    Wurst, we know we haven’t said this in a while but just to remind you, we aren’t Robert Vane. We usually tolerate it because we find it funny to watch you switch positions in your comments even on the same post but we thought we would reiterate it one more time.

    • John says:

      Of course you are not Robert Vane. Robert Vane was the election administrator under Doris Anne Sadler. I bet Robert Vane thinks this is just as ridiculous as everyone else reading this. Robert Vane would have never written this blog.

  17. Wurstnitemare says:

    Robert,My positions change with the political winds. Its a natural life progression that has served me well over the years.I mostly find myself in a oxbow of reality. Our State is fast becoming a cesspool of rancid polititions. We have Evil people like Delph on the right and total wack jobs like Bauer on the left.

    We have a Mayor that will not open his eveys to the fact that not one single member of the IMPD likes Straub.Your boss seems to feel that Straub walks on water. Wellif he keeps up the power grabs and treating his employees like trash the Mayor will end up drowing in that water that Strab is walking on. The Mayor has NO idea how mych Straubs people hate him.

    On the other hand we have a candidate for the Democrats that will not play well in certain districts and that could be a problem for her. As long as she continues to recieve Hillary Clintons hand me down suites she will never have a personality.She looks like the the libreay lady I had in 3rd grade. I am not totaly convinced that she will walk away with the position. The CARSON name is gold here in this city, Sam Carson coudl pull an upset,…now on to other madness

    For any blog to be a succes you have to be able to entertain, which you do a good job of. Do I flip, yep. Im one of these rare political addicts that have a real consious and not a lamb following the leader. Robert, Jennifer,who ever, your writing styles are pretty obvious for those of us who have been in the BIZ for a while.

    Quite honestly, you guys put out the only blog that is fair down the line. I understand that you take your marching orders from the 25th,thats cool, we all have to put food on the table. In fact I am surprised that you have not gone after Melina harder, of course we have a long wasy to to till November. If one of her flunkies wearing a name tag is the best you can do ,I suggest you get your buddy Straub to do some investigating an dget some real dirt…

    Please dont take my ADD as a weakness, theres a three ring circus in my head 24/7 and Im the ringmaster .

    WE ? Hmmmm, it’s just like Christmas morning, shaking the package to try and guess whats inside.

  18. I don’t really give two flips who you are. To title the post what you titled it and then put something out there that is really lightweight and petty is pretty ridiculous. It’s almost as petty as comparing Mark Massa’s campaign logo to the New England Patriots logo…whoops, I did that.

    I was probably wrong in bringing that one up, and this gave me a pretty good chuckle when I read this one, too.

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