Board of Elections, party officials talk ‘electioneering’
Published 7:43 pm Monday, October 3, 2016
Entering the home stretch of the Nov. 8 general election, political signs are showing up along roads, major intersections and in people’s front yards throughout Beaufort County.
When early voting begins Oct. 20, expect “electioneering” at satellite voting sites and outside the offices of the Beaufort County Board of Elections. Though some people may not appreciate the campaign signs and electioneering, they are legal election-related activities.
Electioneering is any person or group seeking to influence a voter’s choices by distributing campaign literature by hand (or voice), displaying signs or wearing T-shirts, hats, pins and buttons while congregating near a polling place.
That issue, among other election-related topics, was discussed by the board, representatives of the county’s Republican Party and representatives of the county’s Democratic Party during a meeting last month. The party representatives were presented copies of the board’s 2016 election manual, which provides information about campaign signs and electioneering.
“Voters can — voters — it’s not electioneering for them to wear any campaign hats, buttons or T-shirts or have literature. They can take that stuff in with them,” said Kellie Harris Hopkins, the county’s elections director, at that meeting. “Poll workers cannot, and any of your electioneers who pop in to see how many numbers on the (voting) machines, or if they are runners or observers, they cannot. In the act of voting, they can — anybody else cannot.”
Anyone in line to vote or in the process of voting may wear campaign T-shirts, hats, pins and buttons, and they may carry campaign literature. Electioneering is not allowed within 50 feet of polling places and curbside voting sites.
Poll workers, according to the manual, will mark the 50-foot buffer zones on Election Day with pink or yellow flags and signs that read: “No electioneering beyond this point.” There is an exemption to the 50-foot buffer rule. At the Woodard’s Pond polling place, electioneering is allowed 40 feet from the door of the building, which is at the end of the sidewalk leading to the building.
Keith Kidwell, chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party suggested using spray chalk to better delineate the buffer zones.