All that Bundy Cobb wanted to do was to perform his civic duty and cast a vote in the November 4, 2014 elections. When he arrived at the polls to cast his vote, however, he was sternly told by elections officials that he was to remove his hat (see inset photos) because the NRA is “perceived to be associated with Republicans and the Tea Party”.
This statement, however, leads itself to a legal slippery slope and most definitely a violation of federal voting civil rights laws. The Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF), a public interest law firm based in Atlanta, GA, filed suit in federal court on behalf of Mr. Cobb to challenge the accusations against him.
“The chilling effect on voters is direct and immediate, ironically, during an election cycle in which the issues of voter suppression and voter ID requirements have been political lightning rods,” warns Shannon Goessling, Chief Legal Counsel and Executive Director of SLF. “U.S. Justice Department officials have repeatedly warned about voter suppression tactics that allegedly could result in turning away or disqualifying millions of voters. In Cobb’s case, there is a concrete example of actual voter suppression by government representatives,” Goessling said.
“What if a voter arrived at the same polling place wearing a hat with a logo for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), a large union with offices in Atlanta, or another union? Would the officials have taken the position that such a hat was too closely tied to the Democrats? Or what about a hat with a Berkshire Hathaway logo on it? After all, Warren Buffett controls that company, and he’s publicly associated with President Obama, a Democrat. Absurd? Of course it is. But that’s where this action puts us.” adds Goessling.
“We the people own America, not the government,” says Cobb. “ The government works for us, not the other way around. Stop infringing on our rights, whether freedom of speech or the Second Amendment or any of our rights.”
In Bundy Cobb’s story of voting in the 2014 general election, the poll worker represents the full might of the United States government, which exercised the power to prevent him from voting.
“It could be any one of us at any time who have this happen to them, and it’s just not right” said Cobb.
“Bundy Cobb represents thousands of Georgians and millions of Americans who, like him, meet their civic obligations and exercise their rights with the firm conviction that the government should not infringe on the constitutional rights of citizens.,” says Goessling. “Period, full stop.
“This isn’t about the NRA, or whether you like the NRA. This is about whether the government can weigh against a fundamental constitutional right – voting – in favor of the ‘possible perception’ by a hypothetical fellow voter that a man’s hat with a logo on it might offend. The only question now is, who’s next?”
Todd Young Policy Director of Southeastern Legal Foundation updates with this correction: “The Douglas County officials never included ‘tea party’…only ‘Republicans.'”