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The Constitution of Electoral Speech LawThe Supreme Court and Freedom of Expression in Campaigns and Elections$
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Brian K. Pinaire

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780804757249

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804757249.001.0001

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Burson v. Freeman

Burson v. Freeman

(p.127) Chapter 5 Burson v. Freeman
The Constitution of Electoral Speech Law
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines Burson v. Freeman, a case involving Tennessee's prohibition on “electioneering” (the solicitation of votes and the display/ distribution of campaign literature) within one hundred feet of the entrance to the polling place on election day. Desiring both to advocate for a candidate “down the ballot” and to take advantage of the opportunity for last-minute campaigning, generally, Rebecca Freeman challenged this provision of the state's electoral code, alleging that the law violated her First Amendment right to communicate with voters in this quintessentially political environment. But for the state, while the grounds of the polling place may avail themselves to such activities 364 days a year, on election day they took on a different character, acting as a kind of embodiment of the premise of a “secret ballot”—meaning that, as the Court agreed, “campaign free zones” of this sort were necessary to protect voters and the process itself, in light of the increased potential for fraud, harassment, and intimidation where electioneering was allowed.

Keywords:   free speech, electioneering, polling place, elections, campaigning, secret ballot, voter protection

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