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Tennessee poll worker fired after turning away voters in Black Lives Matter shirts, masks

Oct 19, 2020
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MEMPHIS — A Shelby County, Tennessee, poll worker was fired Friday after election officials learned that he had turned away voters who were wearing masks and T-shirts that said Black Lives Matter.

“What he did was patently wrong and he was fired,” said Suzanne Thompson, spokeswoman for the Shelby County Election Commission. 

State law prohibits people from wearing items with the name of a political party or candidate currently on the ballot while in a polling place, but statements like “Black Lives Matter” or “I Can’t Breathe” are not violations of that law. 

A manager of operations went to the Dave Wells Community Center in Memphis during early voting and fired the worker on the spot after confirming the reports, Thompson said. 

2020 Election: Memphis women look for common ground in early voting initiative

Voting: What COVID-19 precautions to expect when you cast your vote in Shelby County

A day later, a second poll worker at the location did not show up for work, quitting. The two poll workers were friends and drove to work together, Thompson said. 

Katherine Burgess covers county government and religion. She can be reached at katherine.burgess@commercialappeal.com, 901-529-2799 or followed on Twitter @kathsburgess.

This article originally appeared on Memphis Commercial Appeal: Poll worker fired for turning away voters in ‘Black Lives Matter’ mask

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