ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KOAT) — Early voting is underway, but one man told Action 7 News he was turned away at the polls because of the shirt he wore.
Greg Malafronte said he went to vote early Friday at the polling center near Montgomery and Tramway in northeast Albuquerque.
Malafronte said he stood in line for 20 minutes, but when he reached the front of the line, things changed.
“They were about to hand me my ballot and the one girl next to the other girl said you can’t give him a ballot because he has that shirt on,” Malafronte said. “The other girl said ‘yes, you can because he’s not running right now. But next time you are not allowed to wear any kind of campaigning shirts or anything like that.’”
The shirt Malafronte wore is a black 2016 Donald Trump shirt.
He said the workers at the polling center gave Malafronte his ballot and let him proceed.
But Malafronte said that did not last long.
“They told me again, ‘we are not taking your ballot’ so the guy tried to grab it from me. I was like what? You can’t take my ballot? He’s said ‘yup because you’re wearing a Trump shirt’,” Malafronte told Action 7 News.
He said he was shocked, ripped up his ballot and left.
According to the secretary of state, voters are allowed to wear political apparel when voting, only if it does not deal with a candidate or question currently on the ballot.
““The standard for what political apparel is now acceptable in polling places changed as a result of a U.S. Supreme Court case earlier this summer. Our office has been working with our county clerks to educate volunteer polling officials of the new ground rules and to make sure every eligible voter is able to cast their ballot,” said Alex Curtas, the communications director for the secretary of state’s office.
Malafronte is a military veteran and said there is more that meets the eye when it comes to his Trump shirt.
“No matter who our president is, it’s our commander and chief. I’m a military vet, so I stand by that ground. Whoever our commander and chief is, I support,” Malafronte said.
Action 7 News reached out to the county clerk’s office regarding the incident.
They sent us this statement:
“The Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office is aware of the campaigning or electioneering situation that occurred at Caracol Plaza today. Our poll officials have been trained and informed of the election laws that govern campaigning or electioneering. With the recent Supreme Court ruling related to campaigning or electioneering, any campaign or electioneering material such as signs, hats, clothing, etc. is not allowed if the material is related to any candidate or question on the ballot for the General election 2018. Our office will reaffirm this information with our precinct officials throughout the election process.”
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