State Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz is one of the most conscientious and hard-working public servants in the state. Over the last year-plus she has also been prone to making some bad political calculations and creating public relations problems for herself.
Such is the case when late last week, Bysiewicz advised local poll workers that voters wearing WWE apparel could violate the rule against campaign paraphernalia within 75-feet of the polls. WWE is of course, the company co-founded by Republican US Senate candidate Linda McMahon. No formal ban on WWE gear has been instituted, but the issue has been discussed informally with local registrars said Bysiewicz spokesman Av Harris. He tells the Hartford Courant’s Capitol Watch that it will be left to the discretion of local poll workers whether to ask voters to remove their wrestling gear when they are inside the polling place.
“If the poll workers feel like the wearing of WWE paraphernalia is in any way interfering with the voting [process], they can ask the individual to cover it up or leave and come back with something else on,” Harris said. “We’re aware that this is may be an issue and were prepared to evaluate every case on an individual basis.”
It is totally unnecessary to bring up the issue at all. And it’s even worse to bring it up and place it squarely at the feet of volunteer poll workers (The Shad has neighbors who are wonderful, civic-minded, poll volunteers who should not be put in a position to decide whether some lunkhead wearing a “Degeneration X” t-shirt can vote or not).
And of course it means the “hyperbole bus” now pulls up and with a big “SWISH,” opens its doors. GOP state Chairman Chris Healy ran a headline on the party website that reads, “BYSIEWICZ LOSES MIND…” Nice. Says Healy, “Susan Bysiewicz has no legal authority to predetermine who votes based on their non-political clothing. On what grounds does Bysiewicz basing this ridiculous act of voter intimidation?” That’s a bit different than the SOTS acquiring a mental affliction, no?
WWE honcho Vince McMahon seems to think the Republic will crumble over Bysiewicz’ “advisement.” “Denying our fans the right to vote, denying them their First Amendment rights, regardless if they are Democrat, Republican or Independent, is un-American, unconstitutional and blatantly discriminatory,” Vince McMahon, Chairman and CEO of WWE, said in a statement. “And oh, we’re not connected to my wife’s campaign.” OK, I made up that last part.