With the most interesting election season in years drawing to a close, many have taken to wearing their votes on their sleeves -- or their lapels, hats, and T-shirts. All of these actions are constitutionally protected free speech. Except, it would seem, inside certain states' polling places.
Virginia has just joined a number of other states in prohibiting voters from wearing to the polls any items of apparel that advocate for or against a particular candidate or issue. Those who do so will presumably be asked to remove or cover the offending items before being permitted to vote.
While the goal of avoiding intimidation or coercion of fellow voters is an important one, surely these laws go too far. Political speech is at the core of the rights of expression that are so vital to a functioning democracy, and clothing is a key medium of personal expression (more on this point in a forthcoming article). Poll workers, police, and others acting in an official capacity should maintain their neutrality, but the attire of private citizens at the polls is hardly a threat to public order -- indeed, it may be considered a quiet contribution to public debate.
Counterfeit Chic thus urges all partisans to go and vote while wearing your team colors, whatever they may be. And if your local election officials give you trouble? Engage in a bit of creative civil disobedience and amortize your Halloween investment by wearing Sarah Palin wigs and glasses or Hillary-style orange pantsuits on Election Day.
Thanks to Anonymous in Richmond for the tip!