(Updated 5:06 p.m.) Vince McMahon, Chairman and CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, filed this lawsuit Tuesday against Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz for her spokesman’s comments regarding what to wear to the polls next week.
“On behalf of myself, my company, WWE® fans and any Connecticut citizen who wants to exercise their constitutional right to vote, I have filed a lawsuit today asserting that Susan Bysiewicz’s directive that allows poll workers to refuse registered voters wearing WWE merchandise the right to vote is a flagrant act of censorship and discrimination,” said McMahon.
Bysiewicz was not immediately available for comment, but the lawsuit picks up on last week’s war of words over what may constitute political speech at the polls.
State election law limits campaign paraphernalia and advertising to within 75 feet of the polling places, but since the WWE is “ubiquitous” with Republican U.S. Sen. candidate Linda McMahon, local election officials have been asking for guidance, Av Harris, spokesman for the secretary of the state’s office, said last week.
In the lawsuit McMahon, Linda’s husband, says he will wear WWE apparel to his polling place in order to protest Bysiewicz’s directive. The lawsuit says the directive is a violation of the civil rights of WWE fans.
Normally, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, McMahon’s Democratic opponent in the race for the U.S. Senate, would be the one to defend Bysiewicz against the lawsuit, however, he has recused himself.
“Attorney General Richard Blumenthal has recused himself from this case,” Deputy Attorney General Carolyn K. Querijero said.
“We will review the lawsuit and consult with the Secretary of the State’s Office.”
Blumenthal’s campaign manger Mindy Myers said the campaign doesn’t have any problem with voters wearing WWE apparel to the polls.
“We don’t consider WWE clothing to be political or covered by any law that restricts political action close to polling places,” Myers said. “People should be able to wear their WWE clothes to vote.” —Mindy Myers, Campaign Manager, Blumenthal for Senate.
Bysiewicz released the memo she sent to local election officials late Tuesday evening in order to clear up any confusion about where she stands on the issue.
She said a WWE T-shirt would only become an issue if another voter complained to the moderator in the polling place. She said at that point, like any other complaint, the moderator would have to deal with the individuals. She said throwing someone out of a polling place based on what they were wearing is tantamount to voter disenfranchisement, which is the exact opposite of what she wants to see happen.