Union: Houston firefighters asked to cover fire service shirts at election polls
Around 20 to 25 firefighters were asked to cover their generic fire department shirts while voting, despite a lack of election law violation
HOUSTON — Firefighter said they were asked to cover their generic fire service-related shirts while voting at some polling stations, despite a lack of election law violation.
Houston Chronicle reported that around 20 to 25 firefighters were approached by election workers to cover or turn their shirts inside out, saying that their shirts were pro-Proposition B, which would give firefighter’s “pay parity” with police officers.
Jillian Miller Ostrewich, wife of a Houston firefighter, made the issue viral with a Facebook post of her inside-out IAFF shirt.
“At 10:15 am Mark Ostrewich and I got in line to early vote,” Ostrewich said in the post. “We were told we were unable to vote until we went to the restroom to turn our shirts inside out. Mark asked 'why?' We were told by a woman that because we are ‘voting on THAT’ today we had to turn it.”
Houston Profession Fire Fighters Association Communications Director Brian Wilcox said firefighters had been following the law while promoting Prop B outside of the polling stations, and when a few of them went inside to use the restroom or vote, they were asked to cover their generic shirts.
"We spelled it out for our membership pretty clearly ... and that was one of the things [we went over] — was you can’t wear anything pro-Prop B," Wilcox said.
He added that several election judges were contacted to correct the issue.
"Firefighters are requested to remove or cover up any t-shirt, buttons, hats, etc. that promote City of Houston Proposition B," Harris County Elections Administrator Sonya Aston said in a statement. "Any clothing that is part of their uniform is allowed to be worn into the polling area, just as any other emergency personnel may wear their uniform."
Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart said the election workers were trying to avoid electioneering.
"That's the whole goal," he said. "We're just upholding the law."