A man in Georgia who wore a “Make America Great Again” hat while voting in 2016 received a letter of instruction for violation of a law against campaigning at polling sites, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Georgia’s State Election Board voted 3-1 Thursday to sanction Lee Holsworth, who said he wears hats because of skin cancer.
Holsworth said he took the MAGA hat off when he was asked to when he went to vote early back on Oct. 29, 2016.
“I didn’t feel like I was electioneering or anything like that. I was just coming in to vote. I don’t even know if there were any other voters there,” he said, according to the newspaper. “When asked to take it off, I was so surprised, but I did it.”
Georgia law prohibits voters from distributing or displaying campaign materials within any polling place. The State Election Board can punish with fines of up to $5,000 and referrals to the attorney general’s office.
The three Republicans on the State Election Board voted that Lee Holsworth violated state law, and the token Democrat on the board opposed the finding.
“I just don’t think it’s a violation to wear a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat that doesn’t say to vote for any particular candidate on it,” said David Worley, a current board member and former chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia.
Republican poll watcher and board member Matt Mashburn disagreed saying that the hat is a symbol of President Trump.
“If you showed 1,000 people a MAGA hat, at least 995 if not all 1,000 would associate MAGA with Trump and only Trump and no other candidate or issue,” he said.
The case was one of 98 decided by the board Thursday, dating back to 2014.
The State Election Board has the power to send letters of instruction, levy fines up to $5,000, issue public reprimands, and refer cases to the attorney general’s office for further investigation.
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