A long fight over wearing political buttons at polling places is over – probably

Critics of Minnesota's law said it violated their free speech rights.

Strolling into your polling place with your favorite candidate's face on your t-shirt remains a no-no in Minnesota. And this week's court ruling may be the final word in the long-running court case. Unless it's not.

The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Minnesota's law banning political buttons or apparel at polling places (or within 100 feet of them).

Critics of the law said it violates their First Amendment right to free speech.

The Appeals Court said in Tuesday's ruling (read it here) it's OK for states to restrict speech in a place that's not a public forum – like a polling place – as long as it's viewpoint-neutral and there's a good reason for it. The judges say ensuring that a polling place is "neutral and free of influence" qualifies as a reason.

What does the law say?

Under the law no one can wear a political button, badge, or insignia to a polling place. There also can't be any political signs up nor anyone campaigning within 100 feet of the place.

In its ruling the appeals court went over what happens if you do show up with a political button. First an election judge will ask you to take it off or cover it up. If you do, no problem.

If you refuse, you can still vote but your name and address will be taken down and you could be prosecuted for breaking the law – a misdemeanor.

By the way, the law specifically mentions the "I VOTED" stickers that get handed out afterwards and says those are OK.

'Please ID Me' buttons

The court case dates back to 2010, when Minnesotans were voting on a Constitutional amendment that would have required a photo ID to vote.

Supporters of the proposal wanted to wear "Please ID Me" buttons to the polling place.

Groups including Election Integrity Watch, Minnesota Northstar Tea Party Patriots, and Minnesota Majority tried unsuccessfully to get a court to block enforcement of the political button ban.

In 2011 they filed their lawsuit. A federal court threw it out. Then an appeals court told the lower court they'd have to hear part of the case. They did and upheld the law. Now, in 2017, the appeals court has agreed with them.

In a statement applauding the court's ruling, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said: "Barring a successful appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court ... the six-year court battle is over."

Next Up

Adam Thielen

Vikings place Adam Thielen on COVID-19/reserve list

Thielen is coming off a two-touchdown game against the Cowboys.

MCF Oak Park Heights

COVID-positive inmate at Oak Park Heights prison dies

He becomes the fourth prison inmate to die from the virus.

Screen Shot 2020-11-23 at 1.08.19 PM

2-ton smoker stolen from Twin Cities chef Thomas Boemer

Boemer is the chef behind restaurants including the popular Revival.

Governor Tim Walz

Walz says relief package is coming for Minnesota small businesses

Walz is prepared to call a special session and pass the package immediately.

Governor Tim Walz

Watch live: Gov. Tim Walz COVID-19 press conference Monday

Walz will be introducing a new app that helps Minnesotans track COVID-19 exposures.


A 20-point swing in Wisconsin? How Clinton and Trump look in the polls now

A clearer picture of the impact of the Trump tapes and the Clinton Wikileaks release can now be seen through election polls.

Don't get worked up over instant polls and who 'won' the debate

Have you seen all those "Who won the debate?" instant polls? Yeah, don't put too much stock into them.

In MN, picking presidential candidates at a caucus is so last year

Now that 2017 is here, Minnesota is a presidential primary state

A recount confirms it: Republicans control the MN Senate by 1 seat

The hand recount in St. Cloud upheld a Republican Senate candidate's narrow victory.

A Trump election fraud commission wants voter info; will MN deliver it?

A presidential commission on election fraud is asking states for voter information.

A Republican not named Mills is running for Rick Nolan's seat in Congress

Another Nolan/Mills rematch is still possible – but there's a new wrinkle now.

Recap and fact-checking from the final presidential debate

GoMN is providing live updates and fact-checking from tonight's final presidential debate.