Election officials apologize for removing voters wearing ‘Black Lives Matter’ gear

ATLANTA — Elections officials in two counties are apologizing to voters after workers mistakenly told them they couldn’t wear “Black Lives Matter” paraphernalia while they voted.

Nicky Griffin told Channel 2′s Mike Petchenik she was wearing a BLM mask when she went to vote early at the East Roswell Library last week.

“As I entered the door to where you vote, I was told I was unable to enter unless I turned my mask around,” she said. “It literally says ‘Black Lives Matter,’ and it says nothing political in regards to one candidate or another.”

After Griffin pointed it out to workers, she said they eventually allowed her to cast a ballot.

“BLM doesn’t mean I’m Republican. Doesn’t mean I’m Democrat. Don’t assume because I’m wearing BLM who I am voting for,” she said. “I don’t want any person to miss out on the opportunity to vote because of bad information.”

In a statement, Fulton County officials told Petchenik:

“On Friday, October 23 we learned of voter who indicated that they were asked to remove a “Black Lives Matter” face mask. After a review, we learned that a line manager working at the East Roswell Library made this request of the voter…..We have reaffirmed with all poll workers and line managers that the only apparel items specifically prohibited in the polls are those that promote candidates or political parties. These include any images, names and campaign slogans. Apparel with other forms of expression, including this voter’s “Black Lives Matter” face mask, are legally permissible within the polling place.”

Meantime, in Forsyth County, another voter posted a YouTube video showing a similar encounter with a worker outside the Sharon Springs precinct.

“I’m sorry but that’s one of the things we can’t allow inside the poll,” a worker is heard telling the voter wearing a BLM shirt on video.

After a poll manager intervened, the man was ultimately allowed inside to cast his ballot.

“This is why Black Lives Matter,” the man said in the video “Because if simply putting those three words on your shirt means that you can’t vote, then there’s an issue in this country. There is systemic racism.”

A county spokeswoman told Petchenik the poll worker in question was brand new and mistaken when he told the man to take off his shirt. Karen Shields said the county is undertaking training to ensure that all workers know the law.