If a woman wanted to vote in a bikini in Guilford County, or a man wanted to vote shirtless, no one would stop them – but it would be seen by many as a pretty bad clothing choice for Election Day.
So, while a restaurant might care about that bikini, a poll worker would likely be OK with it.
But there actually is something of a dress code for voting – though it has more to do with whether or not your clothing constitutes electioneering than whether or not you’re showing too much skin.
On the first question, Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt said this week that you can pretty much wear what you want. In fact, in the years he’s been Guilford County’s election director, that has never been a problem.
“I’ve never experienced any issues with inappropriate clothing,” he said. “We have a duty to maintain order while facilitating the voting process. If clothing choice made that impossible, I suppose we could step in to work out a solution – but I don’t see this really getting to that point,” he said of a woman in a bikini or a shirtless male voter.
On the other hand, there is something of a dress code for voting – it’s when your outfit is too over the top regarding the candidate or candidates of your choice. For instance, if your clothes were plastered with stickers with your candidates’ name on it, you may run into some problems – especially if you start actively calling attention to your clothes.
“There is a 50-foot buffer zone from the door of the polling place where electioneering is prohibited,” Collicutt said. “Voter’s wearing a shirt or hat, while not actively campaigning or showing, and just passively waiting to vote, is okay. Wearing stickers plastered all over is different, and could be considered as actively attempting to draw eyes in support of the candidate. It’s not necessarily the wearing of the stickers, but what is the voter doing while in line while waiting to vote.”
Here’s what North Carolina law says: “No person or group of persons shall hinder access, harass others, distribute campaign literature, place political advertising, solicit votes, or otherwise engage in election-related activity in the voting place or in a buffer zone which shall be prescribed by the county board of elections around the voting place.”
So wear that bikini to the polling place if you want, but go easy on the candidate-promotion attire.