Poll worker fired for turning away Memphis voters wearing Black Lives Matter shirts

State law does not allow voters to wear items with the name of a candidate or political party, but does not prohibit items with “Black Lives Matter."

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A poll worker in Memphis, Tennessee, has been fired after turning away early voters who were wearing “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” shirts, an elections official said Monday.

The worker was fired Friday after officials received a call from a witness at the Dave Wells Community Center in Memphis, Shelby County Election Commission spokeswoman Suzanne Thompson said.

Tennessee law does not allow voters to wear items bearing the name of a candidate or a political party in a polling place. But state law does not prohibit statements such as “Black Lives Matter,” Thompson said.

The number of voters who were told to leave was not immediately known, but Thompson said it was only a few. The poll worker thought the statements were tied to the Democratic Party, Thompson said.

“That was pretty bad,” she said. “They were not supposed to be turned away.”

Early voter turnout ahead of the Nov. 3 election has been strong in Memphis and throughout Tennessee. Early voting ends Oct. 29 in the state.