District 2 City Council candidate Keith Toney stood within the 100-foot area in which electioneering is barred and greeted voters outside the Claude Black Community Center on Tuesday. His runoff opponent, Jada Andrews-Sullivan, said she does not plan to file a complaint with the Bexar County Elections Department.
Candidates for office are barred from standing within 100 feet of a polling place unless they have official business in the polling location or are voting. Toney had entered the building to vote, but remained in the parking lot at the East Commerce Street facility about 30 feet away from the entrance where voters were filing into the polls as early voting began in runoffs for three City Council seats and the mayor’s office.
Toney left the area after an elections worker approached him and after a Rivard Report photographer took a picture of him.
Bexar County Elections Administrator Jacquelyn Callanen said Tuesday morning that her office had not received any formal complaints as early voting began, but she confirmed a candidate who is present at a polling site without meeting one of the exceptions would run afoul of state rules.
Toney, a 67-year-old Vietnam War veteran and retired federal employee, told the Rivard Report on Tuesday that he was speaking to his pastor on his way inside the building to vote.
“I wasn’t electioneering. I stopped to talk to my pastor on the way in to vote,” he said, adding his conversation took about five minutes. “I have nothing on that says, ‘Vote for Keith Toney.’”
When an elections worker approached him, he was told he was “fine” because he did not have any campaign merchandise on, Toney said.
Andrews-Sullivan said her team members informed her that Toney had crossed the 100-foot marker near the early voting polling place Tuesday.
“If someone decides to call it in, that’s the only way the elections [department] would act on it,” Andrews-Sullivan said.
There are several rules in place at polling sites to stop candidates and/or their supporters from trying to influence a voter. Along with the restriction that keeps candidates 100 feet from polling places, no campaign signs are allowed in that buffer zone. Also, any signs, words or indications of support for or in opposition to a candidate, ballot measure, or political party 100 feet from a polling place are prohibited. Such violations of the state election code are Class C misdemeanors punishable by a fine of up to $500.
Early voting continues through June 4. Election day is June 8.