Texas Man Sues State After They Block Him From Voting While Wearing MAGA Hat
Dallas, TX – A Texas man who was told he had to turn his red Make American Great Again (MAGA) baseball cap inside-out to be allowed inside a polling location to vote has filed a lawsuit against the state.
An election worker stopped Tony Ortiz where he stood in line at his polling location for the November 2018 election and told him that he had to turn his MAGA hat inside-out if he wanted to wear it inside to vote, The Epoch Times reported.
Ortiz objected and pointed out that President Donald Trump, with whom the MAGA hats are associated, wasn’t even on the ballot.
But the poll worker told Ortiz that his act of “electioneering” would prevent him from voting, and another election worker threatened to have him arrested.
Texas law prohibits “the wearing of any apparel bearing an image that could be construed as relating to any person or issue that has been, currently is, or could be on a Texas ballot,” according to The Epoch Times.
The law also gives poll workers the authority to stop citizens from voting if they don’t approve of what they’re wearing.
The Epoch Times reported that in Texas, election officials are empowered to make on-the-spot judgments about the acceptability of items of clothing.
They also have the authority to issue arrest warrants.
Ultimately, Ortiz left the polling place and then returned later – without his hat – and was permitted to vote, The Epoch Times reported.
Ortiz’s lawsuit alleged that Texas law about what can be worn inside and around polling locations “suffers from erratic and arbitrary enforcement,” The Epoch Times.
It also argued that Texas law contradicted a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Mansky.
In that case, the justices invalidated a Minnesota law that was nearly the same as existing Texas law and ruled that passive political expression at voting locations was protected by the First Amendment, The Epoch Times reported.
Ortiz is represented by attorney Wen Fa of the Pacific Legal Foundation, and joined in his lawsuit by Jillian Ostrewich, who was told to turn her shirt inside out at a Houston polling location because the shirt said “Houston Firefighters” and had a small AFL-CIO emblem on it.
Election officials said the shirt was inappropriate because citizens were voting on a ballot measure that would give the city’s firefighters a raise.
Even firefighters in uniform who showed up to vote were reportedly chastised by poll workers, according to The Epoch Times.
In the lawsuit, the Pacific Legal Foundation argued that polling places are not exempt from the First Amendment and no one should have to give up their right to free speech in order to vote.
“Voters don’t shed their constitutional rights at the polling place. Texans such as Tony Ortiz shouldn’t face criminal charges just because their shirts or hats express messages an election worker doesn’t like,” Wa wrote in an opinion column for The Hill.
The lawsuit was filed in the midst of rash of attacks on people who did nothing other than wear a MAGA hat in public.
Bryton Turner was attacked by an illegal alien in Falmouth, Massachusetts in February.
Rosiane Santos was charged with disorderly conduct and simple assault after she knocked the MAGA hat off Turner’s head in a bar.
Nineteen-year-old Ryan Salvagno is facing assault and harassment charges after he attacked an elderly man in a New Jersey grocery store parking lot and threw the octogenarian and his MAGA hat to the ground.
And 30-year-old Kino Jimenez was indicted for felony-level theft after he pulled a teenage boy’s hair while ripping a MAGA hat off of his head inside a Whataburger restaurant in San Antonio.