Memphis poll worker fired for turning away voters wearing ‘Black Lives Matter’, ‘I Can’t Breathe’ shirts

Tennessee law doesn't allow voters to wear items bearing the name of a candidate or a political party in a polling place, but doesn't prohibit statements such as ‘Black Lives Matter’

The Associated Press October 20, 2020 08:39:02 IST
Memphis poll worker fired for turning away voters wearing ‘Black Lives Matter’, ‘I Can’t Breathe’ shirts

File image of a BLM protest. AP

Memphis: A poll worker in Memphis, Tennessee, has been fired after turning away early voters who were wearing “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can't Breathe” shirts, an elections official said Monday.

The worker was fired Friday after officials received a call from a witness at the Dave Wells Community Center in Memphis, Shelby County Election Commission spokeswoman Suzanne Thompson said.

Tennessee law does not allow voters to wear items bearing the name of a candidate or a political party in a polling place. But state law does not prohibit statements such as “Black Lives Matter,” Thompson said.

The number of voters who were told to leave was not immediately known. The poll worker thought the statements were tied to the Democratic Party, Thompson said.

“That was pretty bad,” she said. “They were not supposed to be turned away.” Early voter turnout ahead of the 3 November election has been strong in Memphis and throughout Tennessee. Early voting ends 29 October in the state.

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