Arizona judge says voter will be allowed to wear Tea Party shirt to polls on Election Day

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Diane Wickberg will be allowed to wear her Flagstaff Tea Party t-shirt to the polls on Nov. 2.

A federal judge in Arizona approved a temporary agreement on Wednesday, allowing the grandmother to don her shirt in support of the Tea Party movement when she votes. But the case could go to court after this year’s election.

The Goldwater Institute filed a federal civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Wickberg this summer after poll watchers told the Arizona woman that she was required to cover her Flagstaff Tea Party shirt while voting. Officials said wearing the shirt was considered electioneering. Wickberg argued that her rights were being violated, as her shirt did not endorse any candidates or political party.

The lawsuit was filed against Coconino County in Arizona and its recorder, Candace D. Owens. According to the Yuma Sun, Owens said she only agreed to the temporary order to save the county money, and still thinks the shirt breaks electioneering rules.

The Goldwater Institute declared victory. “We hope this victory will provide a civics lesson to government officials who substitute their own subjective values and political biases for objective rules,” said Clint Bolick, the Goldwater Institute’s litigation director.

The judge’s injunction allowing Wickberg to wear her shirt expires after Nov. 2. and the Goldwater Institute as pledged to “pursue this lawsuit to make sure that Coconino County uses objective standards in the future to enforce the state’s ban on electioneering at the polls.”

Wickberg is not the only Tea Partier whose attire has been questioned at the polls. The Daily Caller reported this week that a Texas woman was told she couldn’t vote because she was wearing a Gadsden flag button. That image is popular among Tea Party activists.