The Vote Yes for MHS Committee makes it official: displaying a Madison Bulldog logo in any building where voting for the Madison school bond election takes place is a violation of state election law.
South Dakota Codified Law 12-18-3 reads as follows (emphasis mine):
12-18-3. Electioneering, offices, distracting communications devices, and signature gathering prohibited near polling place&ndashViolation as misdemeanor. Except for sample ballots and materials and supplies necessary for the conduct of the election, no person may, in any polling place or within or on any building in which a polling place is located or within one hundred feet from any entrance leading into a polling place, maintain an office or public address system, or use any communication or photographic device in a manner which repeatedly distracts, interrupts, or intimidates any voter or election worker, or display campaign posters, signs, or other campaign materials or by any like means solicit any votes for or against any person or political party or position on a question submitted or which may be submitted. No person may engage in any practice which interferes with the voter's free access to the polls or disrupts the administration of the polling place, or conduct any petition signature gathering, on the day of an election within one hundred feet of a polling place. A violation of this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor.
On December 15, I wrote the following:
Arguably, the school may have to ban Bulldog jackets, buttons, and signs at school events where voting is offered. If the "Vote Yes for MHS Committee" adopts any MHS logos or slogan for its campaign, if they adopt school colors maroon and gold for their advertising, then the presence of such school paraphernalia at polling places could well qualify as electioneering that could sway votes [CAH, "MHS Bond Issue Early Voting Open! But Don't Wear Your Bulldog Jacket...," Madville Times, 2010.12.15].
Last night, the following ad appeared on page 12 of the Madison Daily Leader:
The Bulldog in this paid campaign advertising is now an official element of electioneering communication. According to state law, its presence in any building where voting takes place is as illegal as if I had walked into the polls in 2008 wearing my Barack Obama hopey-changey pin.
So let's see: The high school is setting up early voting places at the high school, the elementary school, and the DSU fieldhouse. On the days on which voting is taking place, election law will require the removal of all Bulldog logos from public display in those buildings. Fans coming to watch the basketball games that coincide with those voting events will need to leave their Bulldog jackets, hats, t-shirts, and other paraphernalia at home, or at least outside in their cars.
SDCL 12-18-9.2 spells out that election officer Cindy Callies, her election deputies, and the local police are required to remove any such Bulldog logos and other electioneering materials from polling sites and arrest anyone violating election law with such materials.
So, how many violations of election law went unaddressed at early voting at the basketball game on December 21?
This is the law. This is an election. It needs to be done right.