Couple wearing Trump 2020 hats get into dispute with Davidson County Election officials over the boundary rule

Wearing campaign gear to a precinct is against state law
Posted at 6:22 PM, Oct 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-25 07:22:43-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Even with a little rain and cool temperatures, Ed and Norrita Kowalski showed up to vote Saturday afternoon, proud to cast their ballot for President Donald Trump.

"We’re really excited, we’re hoping Trump will come through for us," said Norrita Kowalski.

To show their support, they both wore Trump 2020 hats. Before an encounter with Davidson County Elections officials, a NewsChannel 5 reporter and photographer warned the Kowalski's the hats would likely have to come off.

"I’m not really sure what they might do about me taking off my hat. I’ve kinda been expecting it. That’s why I brought my umbrella," said Norrita Kowalski.

Moments later, a security guard asked them to remove their hats and they refused. Then a poll supervisor came outside and made the same request. The couple still refused.

"He’s telling us to remove our hats because we are because we have Trump hats on, so I hope you guys are actually getting this," Norrita Kowalski shouted towards the NewsChannel 5 crew.

After that exchange, the election site supervisor called his boss asking for advice. "

We are not going to allow them into the building with the hats on and I was wondering if I needed to call other support," the supervisor said.

Other support was never needed.

After pleading their case a little longer, the Kowalskis reluctantly took off the hats so they could go inside and vote.

"It was just a little rude the way it was approached. You know, he could have been a lot nicer," said Ed Kowalski.

According to Tennessee state law, it's illegal to possess or wear campaign gear within the 100-foot boundary. We called Davidson County Election Administrator Jeff Roberts, who says episodes like these are fairly common.

"We have these instances during every election usually but, it’s not as prominent let’s say as this election," said Roberts. "It’s probably not super common knowledge that you can’t wear your campaign material while you’re voting."

Moments after casting their ballots, the hats went back on.

"I’m not going to have a hard time with somebody wearing a Bernie Sanders or Biden hat, that’s their support and that’s why we’re here," said Ed Kowalski.

The couple tells NewsChannel 5, it was an honest mistake to not read the sign, but they're still glad they wore their hats.

"We didn’t even see the sign when we were walking up," said Norrita Kowalski. "But it wasn’t a mistake that we wore our hats."