What to Wear to the Polls, Vol. 7, Issue 19

As if this year's political campaign weren't fraught with enough etiquette minefields as it is, now the state of Pennsylvania is involving itself in what voters can and cannot wear at the polls. Read all about it here.   At least this case doesn't involve visible undergarments -- at least not yet -- but it does highlight the junction of Free Speech, Undue Influence, and Perfect Propriety. At issue is whether or not voters may wear clothes, particularly T-shirts, promoting the Candidate of Their Choice.   Why, one might ask, is this so important?  Because polling places, within a legally mandated radius, are intended to be neutral spaces. In other words, nothing within them should be thought to sway a voter toward one candidate over the other. This is why one sees a ring of signs or volunteers around a certain point at a polling place, but not within it. And Etiquetteer has not been shy about chastising overeager campaign volunteers clustering too close!  Etiquetteer believes the need for neutrality in a polling place deserves respect from partisan voters, but not so much that all candidate identification needs to be suppressed.  After careful thought, Etiquetteer is ready to draw the line of Perfect Propriety at the wearing of buttons and ribbons, but not T-shirts or other printed clothing. In other words, accessories are OK, but not clothes. Etiquetteer freely admits that part of this decision comes from a desire to see more citizens show respect for this Important Civic Function by dressing up to vote. Ninety percent of men, and all gentlemen, look better in a suit and tie anyway, and there's no reason American ladies can't appear in something better than blue jeans and hoodies.  Partisan exhibitionists can bring their candidate gear in a backpack to change into after voting if they must.