Strictness of the laws can vary by state; Snopes covered this and provided a link to rules from two years ago.
An Gadaí, as mentioed by Ferret Herder, the Snopes article linked to above has a link to a paper on the Constitutionality of State Laws (PDF) on the subject. While I didn’t read the paper, and it seems to be very left-leaning, the footnotes have snips of the relevant laws from all (?) fifty states as of 2006. You could find the law from your girlfriend’s state.
For what it’s worth, Michigan’s law was recently upheld:
This, on the other hand:
Shushing people engaged in private conversation? It sounds to me like they’ve crossed the line into a violation of the right to free speech. None of the laws in the PDF above seem to justify this*. The footnote for Illinois in particular reads
This doesn’t seem to cover what you saw.
(*) Well, North Carolina’s law reads (bolding mine)
:dubious: I would call voting “election-related activity”, so I’m not sure what of make of that.
How do you define “private conversation?” Clearly, we can restrict otherwise “free” speech in time, place and manner, and one of the restrictions constitutionally permissible is to restrict electioneering within a certain distance of a polling place. It’s not going to matter if that speech is “private” or not. How would you draw that line? :dubious:
At the polling place I was observing at, there was a large delivery of Dunkin Donuts in mid-morining, much appreciated by all, though I do not know who paid for it and exactly where it came from.
From Meriam-Webster, electioneering means “to work for the election of a candidate or party”. Simply mentioning the name of a candidate does not automatically become electioneering. Surely the law is able to distinguish between the two?
Just as surely, the context of how the speech is used is important. Announcing to all the people present that a candidate’s daughter has died is different than mentioning it in the normal course of a conversation between two people. Now C K Dexter Haven didn’t actually say it was a normal conversation, but that’s certainly how I took it.
As to how to draw the line between private speech and not, I would think you’d need to look at intent. A general announcement, or someone going from person to person, and actively bringing up the subject, would be evidence of that intent.
I think the law would have to make the distinction between electioneering and not (of which he distinction between private and public speech is one component), because the government has an interest in ensuring fair elections, but there’s that pesky first amendment right which needs to be balanced against that interest. You shouldn’t infringe on the later for no benefit to the former. Are you really arguing that making that distinction isn’t possible?
Yes, it was a normal conversation, but it was about the news, and relating to a candidate. I personally think the judge was being over-zealous, but I wasn’t about to start an argument about it. It can clearly be viewed as electioneering, raising up sympathy for the candidate, etc.
We did have a candidate visit our polling place, he’s running (unopposed) for sanitary district and he was city mayor for many years. He did walk around a bit and greet people he knew, but that was mostly the election officials; his wife was a judge. I didn’t think of it as electioneering, although I guess it could have been interpreted as such.
"State law requires candidates and campaign material be kept at least 100 feet from any entrance to a polling place. "
I find this amusing, as it technically forbids candidates from voting.