What can I wear to the polls -- and other rules of decorumby Laura Yuen, Minnesota Public Radio
From fashion no-nos to rules on fliers, here's a primer on Election Day etiquette in the polling place.
St. Paul, Minn. — Clifford Dodd is doing brisk business on University Avenue. Dodd is the guy who has parked his van on the side of the road, with a shopping cart and pull wagon filled with Obama sweatshirts and buttons.
"I have hoodies. I have the whole Obama jogging outfit, for men and women," Dodd tells a customer. "I have watches, bumper stickers, over 60 different buttons..."
Dodd sells shirts ranging in size from newborn all the way to 6XL.
But as much as his customers may enjoy wearing their new threads, Dodd tells them they should cover them up -- or leave them at home -- when they head to the polls.
For Election Day fashion advice, we consulted the powers-that-be: the Minnesota Secretary of State's office.
WHAT NOT TO WEAR
Minnesota's election law specifically bans voters from displaying campaign materials in or around the polling places. That includes political buttons, badges and clothing.
But if you do end up wearing a McCain-Palin shirt to the polling place, an election judge will probably ask you to zip up your jacket or turn your shirt inside out. Still, a lot of voter-advocacy groups recommend just leaving the paraphernalia at home.
WHAT ABOUT CAMPAIGN LITERATURE?
The law says you can't post signs or hand out fliers intended to influence someone's vote -- at least not within 100 feet of the building.
Voters are allowed to carry partisan sample ballots or newspaper endorsements to help them cast their votes -- as long as they keep the materials to themselves and take them when they leave.
KIDS AND PETS
You can bring your children into the voting booth.
But dogs? Elections officials say state law falls silent on this issue. But unless you need a service dog, officials recommend leaving them at home to avoid any problems.
If you're elderly or you can't read English, you're allowed to bring someone to translate or help you mark the ballot. Just make sure that person isn't your employer, or your union officer -- or the actual candidate.
CAN I STICK AROUND?
Once you're done casting your ballot, it's time to leave the polling place. Loitering isn't allowed.
TAKE A STICKER
What if you're so excited about voting you desperately want to demonstrate that?
Well, you can show your support -- by wearing one of those stickers that say, "I voted."
- All Things Considered, 11/03/2008, 5:56 p.m.