California Church Removed as Polling Place After Complaints About Black Lives Matter Banners

A church in northeast Fresno was removed as a polling place after County Clerk/Registrar of Voters Brandi Orth received complaints from voters about Black Lives Matter banners on the property.

The large elevated signs face the street outside the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno.

“The county asked us to cover the banners for Election Day on Nov. 6,” the Rev. Tim Kutzmark wrote in a letter to his congregation. “We informed the county that our banners were non-partisan/non-political and were a theological and civil rights statement, so we would not cover them.”

Election law and Fresno County

Orth said that “providing voters with polling locations that are free from public displays of political and/or issue advocacy is a priority of the county.”

California electioneering laws require that campaign material related to a candidate or ballot measure are at least 100 feet from a polling site. Kutzmark said his church’s Black Lives Matter signs are 150 feet from their building, near the street.

The law does not prohibit all political statements.

In a question and answer page of California’s Voting Law Compliance Handbook, one person asked, “A lady working at my polling place last Election Day was wearing a T-shirt that said ‘Down with Liberals’ on it. Can she wear that?”

“Yes. It is not considered electioneering because the T-shirt doesn’t actually advocate voting for or against a particular candidate or measure,” the response reads. “If the shirt had a statement for or against something or someone on the ballot, it would not be allowed within 100 feet of the polls. If the elections official is aware of the situation, he or she will likely request that the woman cover it up or change into something that does not cause the slightest appearance of partisanship.”

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Source: McClatchy DC