Electioneering and How I Learned the Limits of Free Speech

 

It was two o’clock on your average early voting day. People standing in line in a state appointed building. Filing through the line and answering question about their voting status.  I stood amid the throngs, holding my voter registration card, my state ID and my diligently researched sample ballot so I could chose the best representative who coincided with my beliefs. Oh, and I was also wearing this.

elctioneering1

As the line spiraled toward the actual booths, one of the volunteers said that I couldn’t vote in the shirt I had chosen. It was a violation of the Texas polling place laws, where your intentions of which candidate you choose cannot be displayed. I was a bit shocked at this, but I was offered alternatives. I could either turn it inside out or they had an apron I could wear over it. I declined both methods of being controlled and quietly left. Over the last few days, I have voraciously read and researched the regulations around what is called, electioneering.  To the best of my knowledge I had violated the following.

Sec. 61.003.  ELECTIONEERING AND LOITERING NEAR POLLING PLACE.  (a)  A person commits an offense if, during the voting period and within 100 feet of an outside door through which a voter may enter the building in which a polling place is located, the person:
(1)  loiters;  or
(2)  electioneers for or against any candidate, measure, or political party.
(a-1)  The entity that owns or controls a public building being used as a polling place may not, at any time during the voting period, prohibit electioneering on the building’s premises outside of the area described in Subsection (a), but may enact reasonable regulations concerning the time, place, and manner of electioneering.
(b)  In this section:
(1)  “Electioneering” includes the posting, use, or distribution of political signs or literature.
(2)  “Voting period” means the period beginning when the polls open for voting and ending when the polls close or the last voter has voted, whichever is later.
(c)  An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.”

This article is not intended to be a woeful tale of how my voting rights were violated, I went back several days later and cast my ballot in attire that was acceptable for the state mandated dress code. I am of the belief censoring the political intentions of anyone, especially at the place of voting is heresy. To determine that these freedoms are benign in designated places baffles me. When I recounted this tale to family and friends, I was met with confusion that I didn’t know this rule as law. The most cursory Google search corroborated their opinions. It also revealed that every election cycle a handful of people are either removed from polling places, arrested or fined for electioneering violations.

If voting is performing your civic duty or patriotic responsibility, shouldn’t fundamental human rights be observed during those actions? Applying a wide allotment of restrictions to a place, simply because it has a voting booth is counter productive and wrong. The bureaucratic process of voting is already a hassle, but only the stupid or determined will persevere through the gauntlet of inconvenience to cast a vote. It seems with every passing moment, additional limitations are placed upon your ability to merely exist. The hardest ones for me to swallow are the ones buried so deep in rhetoric, you discover them only by unwillingly defying them. Land of the free, indeed.

 

 

I found the following to be of great use on this subject

http://law.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4685&context=expresso

http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/EL/htm/EL.61.htm

http://www.snopes.com/politics/ballot/electioneering.asp

 

Cody Jemes is the co-host of the Bored Shenanigans podcast available via iTunes and Stitcher. See more of his articles here. Also enjoy his poetry by downloading his latest e-book hereBe sure to follow Bored Shenanigans on Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Five Best ‘Murica! movies

America is a vast and diverse land and nearly every angle of it has been represented in cinema. That being said, the following list I feel best reflects the multifaceted sides of the USA. So BS proudly brings you our Rank This! of the Five Best ‘Murica! movies.

5- American Graffiti.

american graffiti

This film embodies all the feelings of youth transcending into adulthood. Taking place in the 60s it follows a group of high school friends as they cruise around their final night before graduation. It reminds us all of those deeply troubling questions of what is life’s next step and where do we go from here. There is most certainly a character in this film you will identify with and it highlights a time in American history that is gone by the wayside.

4- Sling Blade

slingblade

Fuck off if you disagree with me here. Sure it is about mental patient who is released and eventually kills someone. This flick shows some of the obvious flaws in the penal system and the care of mental patients. Whilst that is certainly the low hanging fruit of this choice, it has some moments highlighting redemption and acceptance. It redefines who is the villain and forces the viewer to understand the plight of those often misunderstood and discounted. This is a call to action, showing us how we often act and forcing us to rethink those actions.

3- Lawless

lawless

The eighteenth amendment was a poorly thought out and even more poorly received piece of our history. Prohibition caused much more crime than it ever prevented. This movie follows a tight knit family of moonshiners during the 20s. A period piece that shows the hard times of the era and the corruption between the police and organized crime. This film shows the importance and strength of a community and the loyalty of family.A fantastic movie that shows what a man will do to survive and how that man must evolve once the situation changes around him. This is a work that makes you want to take a stand for your convictions, a neglected notion in our modern era.

2-Ed Wood

ed wood

A biopic film about a man with a dream who couldn’t be denied. The master of trash, Ed Wood was a man with a legacy of films that will endure forever. With cinematic masterworks like Plan 9 from Outer Space, Bride of the Monster, and Orgy of the Dead how can he be denied? With Johnny Depp in one of his best acting roles ever, he shows what sheer will to get things done can accomplish. The American Dream exists in the purist form here. Love him or hate him, you will most certainly remember the path he laid. Ed Wood grasped his piece of history and shows that success is possible with unwavering determination.

1- The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

goodbadugly

If all that is ever left of the human race is this master work, I am happy with that. One of the most perfectly executed cinematic experiences ever, and in spite of it being filmed in Italy this movie says America all over it. Taking place in the midst of the south during the Civil War, this film follows multiple heroes seeking their fortune in west. Whether it was through dishonest or honest means it shows that your destiny is truly in your hands and the good American spirit will conquer bad and ugly. We are a people who wrestled the great frontier and claimed it as our own. This movie is out there to remind us to go seek our adventure in the wilds of life and prosper from the experience.

 

 

 

Cody Jemes is the Literary Engineer behind both the Rank This and the Articulations sections @Bored Shenanigans. Stay tuned weekly for new articles, new pod-casts and all kinds of free funny. Fill your need for sports at Texas Fandom or fill that poetry void at Abuse Through Poetry.