I cannot count the number of emails I have received that I have received from various sources regarding the wearing of campaign t-shirts, hats, buttons, etc., to the polls. I understand they are circulating nationally. All of them say the same thing: that if someone wears those items, they will be turned away and not allowed to vote. As is generally the case, rumors spread quicker than the truth.
In response, the Democratic Party of Virginia put out this statement earlier today, from Nancy Rodrigues, Secretary of the State Board of Elections:
Voters who bring campaign materials to the polling place may be asked to remove or cover it up while at the polling place. The Code of Virginia creates a neutral zone of 40 feet around a polling place where no campaigning may occur. (See § 24.2-604 of the Code of Virginia.) For example, a voter may be asked to remove a campaign sticker or button if you wear it in the polling place. Voters may be asked to cover up a shirt that advocates for a particular candidate. And any loose campaign material (such as signs, pamphlets, or balloons) must be left outside of the polling place. These rules allow voters a safe zone whereby they can vote in private and without distraction or interference. Voters who have questions about the specific policies in their locality, please contact their local Electoral Board.
The Hampton registrar has been even more explicit in the information she is providing voters who question what they can wear to the polls:
Regarding voters inside the polling place when they go to vote, § 24.-604 of the Code of Virginia provides (in part):
A. During the times the polls are open and ballots are being counted, it shall be unlawful for any person (i) to loiter or congregate within 40 feet of any entrance of any polling place; (ii) within such distance to give, tender, or exhibit any ballot, ticket, or other campaign material to any person or to solicit or in any manner attempt to influence any person in casting his vote; or (iii) to hinder or delay a qualified voter in entering or leaving a polling place. …
D. It shall be unlawful for any authorized representative, voter, or any other person in the room to (i) hinder or delay a qualified voter; (ii) give, tender, or exhibit any ballot, ticket, or other campaign material to any person; (iii) solicit or in any manner attempt to influence any person in casting his vote; (iv) hinder or delay any officer of election; or (v) otherwise impede the orderly conduct of the election.
E. The officers of election may require any person who is found by a majority of the officers present to be in violation of this section to remain outside of the prohibited area. Any person violating subsection A or D of this section shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor….
Enforcement of this section is assigned to the Officers of Election, who are appointed and supervised by the local Electoral Board the law does prohibit “exhibit[ing]…campaign material” within 40 feet of any entrance to a polling place, or inside the room. A violation of this law is a Class 1 misdemeanor (see http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+18.2-11).
A voter “exhibit[ing]…campaign material” would probably be asked by the officers, if they notice it, to remove or cover the campaign material while they are inside the polling place and prohibited area.
Outside of the polling place or the 40-foot prohibited area, state law has nothing else to say on the subject beyond the requirement for reporting of campaign finance matters.
These are the rules in Virginia. If you live outside Virginia, please check with your own voter registrar to get the rules in your state.