Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Did Hillary Clinton Violate New York Electioneering Law?
A Prima Facie Case

Mugging for the cameras this morning (embedded video, below), Senator Hillary Clinton displays her personal disregard for the New York State electioneering law, by stumping for Democrats visibly within a few feet of where people are casting ballots in voting booths in Chappaqua, NY.

New York State Law specifically prohibits any such activity within 100 feet of a polling place. A violation is a misdemeanor offense.

What would clearly seem to be the pertinent section of New York State law provides as follows:
§ 17-130. Misdemeanor in relation to elections. Any person who:
. . .
4. Electioneers on election day or on days of registration within one hundred feet, as defined herein, from a polling place. Said prohibition shall not apply to a building or room that has been maintained for political purposes at least six months prior to said election or registration days, except that no political displays, placards or posters shall be exhibited therefrom. For the purposes of this section, the one hundred feet distance shall be deemed to include a one hundred foot radial measured from the entrances, designated by the inspectors of elections, to a building where the election or registration is being held.
You can download the full election law at the New York State Board of Elections website (it is a large pdf file), or you can examine a much more convenient (unofficial) version of the specific section, §17 - 130, at the Justicia website, located here.

According to a recent piece in the NY City News Service, and reposted at Huffington Post, in New York State even "passive" advocacy for political candidates at a polling place could be a "misdemeanor" offense. The NY City News Service is a student publication at CUNY.

The writers of the piece were cautioning Obama supporters not to engage in "passive" electioneering by wearing campaign paraphernalia, such as Obama tee shirts, or buttons when they go to vote because they might be challenged. The story even notes that the New York Civil Liberties Union has said that they were going to include information about that law in their voter information packets.
The New York Civil Liberties Union plans – for the first time – to include a similar warning in its voter information materials.
Hillary's apparent violation, however, is not passive.

Here's betting, however, that there will be no charge for what seems to be her rather obvious violation of the state's election law.

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