Planning to dress up as one of Texas’ gubernatorial candidates for Halloween?
If so, election officials offer one piece of advice: Stay out of the voting booth. Or just put the political costume on after you vote.
“Don’t wear them to the polling site,” said Frank Phillips, Tarrant County’s elections administrator. “It could be considered electioneering, and they could be asked to remove it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
And because voter ID laws are in effect, any costumes involving a painted face or a mask are out as well.
Today is the last day for early voting, and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at more than 40 early voting sites in Tarrant County. Election Day is Tuesday.
More than 1.29 million Texans cast ballots in the 15 largest counties during the first 10 days of early voting, compared with 1.28 million during that time frame four years ago, according to records from the Texas secretary of state’s office.
Don’t do it.
Texas law says electioneering happens when someone wears clothes, buttons, hats, pins or other items promoting a candidate inside a polling place or within 100 feet of a door through which a voter could enter the building.
Election workers will ask people to remove or cover any campaign materials, which could be as simple as turning their shirts inside out.
“You can’t wear anything into a polling place that could be deemed as supporting a candidate or a measure on the ballot,” Phillips said.
It’s up to the election judge at each polling site to make the call, Phillips said.
If someone walks in wearing an Obama hat or a Romney button, the judge could decide it’s electioneering — even if the candidate isn’t on the current ballot —Phillips said.
While nonpolitical masks are allowed, election judges need to see a voter’s face at least briefly to comply with the voter ID law that took effect last year.
The law requires voters to bring a photo ID — such as a driver’s license, a state-issued personal identification card, a concealed-handgun license, a military card or citizenship certificate with a photo, or a passport. Out-of-date licenses will be accepted as long as they expired within the past 60 days.
Election officials say they aren’t trying to take the fun out of voting on Halloween. They just ask people to keep in mind that a clown face or a costume that conceals the face isn’t a great idea when they’re voting. Hot costumes, such as protective Ebola gear, should be OK.
“If someone has on a Batman mask, they’d ask you to remove it” to compare your face with the ID, Phillips said. “But you could put it back on.”