Kay Hill likely thought she was merely defending her Christian views when she turned up at a Texas polling place with a shirt that read “vote the Bible.” But, to her surprise, she was told by an election worker to cover up the faith-based message. According to Texas state law, voters are not allowed to show up to a polling place with a sign, gesture, word or other related communication that suggests how others should vote.
At the time of the incident, Hill was casting her early vote at City Hall in Taylor, Texas. Her shirt caught the attention of a worker, who apparently offered her a jacket to cover it up. Now, she is threatening to file a formal complaint with the state’s attorney general if Williamson County refuses to apologize over the incident.
But officials, so far, are defending their poll volunteers, claiming that they were merely following state law. Rather than backing down, Williamson County Public Affairs Director Connie Watson is doubling down, claiming that the shirt violates the law.
“Electioneering or loitering within 100 feet of the entrance to the polling place or inside the polling place is not allowed,” Watson explained. “Electioneering would cover wearing a hat, a pen, a T-shirt or a sign that would indicate a position for a political party, candidate or a proposition.”
But Hill believes she did nothing wrong and, thus, didn’t violate the law. Her attorney, Jonathan Saenz, agrees. Saenz claims that his client was told, upon entering the polling place, that the Bible shirt may offend some people. The lawyer, who is president of Texas Values, claims that his client was forced to give up her religious freedom in order to cast a vote. Saenz believes that she was “targeted because of her religious beliefs.”
“This is obviously a religious free expression and no one should be put in a position having to choose religious freedom over deciding to vote,” he explained.
As for mentioning the Bible, Saenz doesn’t understand why the t-shirt’s message is so problematic in the eyes of government officials.
“Nothing says that you can’t have a shirt that says vote the Bible. The last time I checked republicans and democrats, it’s not a partisan issue on the bible.”