A poll worker in Memphis was fired after turning away voters who were wearing Black Lives Matter shirts

Kelly McLaughlin
·2 min read
Black Lives Matter
People take part in a rally on April 29, 2015 at Union Square in New York, held in solidarity with demonstrators in Baltimore, Maryland demanding justice for an African-American man who died of severe spinal injuries sustained in police custody. EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP via Getty Images
  • A poll worker was fired after several voters who were wearing Black Lives Matter attire were turned away from a polling site in Memphis, Tennessee, last week, election officials said on Monday.

  • Attire featuring political parties or candidates are banned from Tennessee polling sites, but Black Lives Matter clothing isn't prohibited. 

  • The poll worker told officials he believed Black Lives Matter was affiliated with the Democratic Party.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A poll worker in Memphis, Tennessee, was fired after turning away early voters wearing shirts that had the phrases "Black Lives Matter" and "I Can't Breathe" on them, election officials said on Monday.

Shelby County Administrator of Elections Linda Phillips told WMC-TV the poll worker was fired on Friday after several voters were turned away from a polling site in North Memphis last week.

Tennessee law bars voters from wearing apparel supporting political parties or candidates to the polls, but the law isn't applicable to statements tied to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Phillips told WMC-TV the election commission learned of the poll worker's behavior on Thursday and fired them after an investigation.

The poll worker, Shelby County Election Commission spokeswoman Suzanne Thompson told the Associated Press, thought "Black Lives Matter" was tied to the Democratic Party.

"This is not acceptable," Phillips told WMC-TV. "We covered this in training."

"He was given very clear instructions. He was given clear instructions the next day, and again didn't pay attention to them. So he was terminated," Phillips added in an interview with WREG-TV.

Officials do not know exactly how many people the poll worker turned away.

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