If you are a proud Hoosier Democrat, Republican, or Libertarian planning to vote, there are some things you need to know. Like how your freedoms of speech and expression are limited at Indiana polling places.
The section of law (Indiana Code 3-14-3-6) deals with the crime of ‘electioneering’. It details what is and is not allowed at places where people vote. And the restrictions begin before you reach the entrance.
The restrictions begin 50 feet from the door to the polling place. Political signs must be beyond that 50 feet mark. Also, from there and into where actual voting takes place, no conversations attempting to persuade voters are allowed.
Voters, poll workers, and poll watchers (and all others in a polling place) cannot display or wear anything that promotes a candidate, party, or preference on a ballot question. So, leave your campaign buttons, t-shirts, and pins at home.
Poll workers have additional restrictions including being prohibited from providing names of write-in candidates.
There may be greater interest in people wanting to be a poll watcher, but those folks cannot just show up at the polls.
“They are allowed by law, but they do need to be pre-registered. You cannot simply go inside a polling place declare yourself to be a poll watcher and start watching silently or talking to voters in the polling place,” said Dr. Elizabeth Bennion, a political science professor at Indiana University South Bend.
Violating this state law will get you more than a slap on the wrist. Those convicted of this Class A misdemeanor face up to a year in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
So, please go exercise your right to vote. Just leave your campaign gear and conversations at home.