Poll worker accused of rejecting voters in Black Lives Matter shirts, TN officials say

Tanasia Kenney
·1 min read

A poll worker accused of turning away voters wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts and masks at an early voting site in Tennessee has been fired, according to local election officials.

A handful of voters were rejected when they attempted to vote at the Dave Wells Community Center in Memphis last week, according to Shelby County Administrator of Elections Linda Phillips, WMC5 reported.

Phillips said the poll worker’s behavior was “not acceptable,” considering it was something that was reviewed in training.

Some also showed up to vote in shirts that read “I Can’t Breathe,” a statement that became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement after the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York.

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While state law prohibits people from wearing items that express support for a particular party or candidate while inside a polling place, apparel with statements such as “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” do not violate the law, the Associated Press reported.

The election commission fired the worker Friday after an investigation, according to Shelby County Election Commission spokeswoman Suzanne Thompson, the AP reported. The poll worker believed the statements had ties to the Democratic party, Thompsonsaid.

“That was pretty bad,” she said, according to the AP. “They were not supposed to be turned away.”

A second worker at the polling place failed to show up to work the next day, The Commercial Appeal in Memphis reported. That worker was friends with the fired worker and they carpooled to work together, Thompson said, according to the paper.

McClatchy News reached out to the Shelby County Election Commission for further comment and is awaiting response.

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