Bulverde Police Department officers were forced to arrest a man wearing a political T-shirt on Monday during the first day of early voting at a Comal County polling place in Bulverde, the police chief said.
“We had a guy who had a shirt on that the elections coordinator or deputy elections clerk felt like was a political statement,” Bulverde Chief Gary Haecker said. “Therefore we got called up there because this gentleman didn’t want to either change his shirt, turn it inside out, cover the insignia or whatever it was. That is a violation of the election code.”
Police arrested 55-year-old Bulverde resident Brett Bartlett Mauthe on a charge of electioneering and loitering near a polling place.
According to the election code section 61.003 says someone commits a crime if he or she loiters or “electioneers for or against any candidate, measure, or political party” inside or within 100 feet of an outside door of a polling place. “‘Electioneering’ includes the posting, use, or distribution of political signs or literature,” the statute reads.
Cynthia Jaqua, Comal County elections coordinator, said that also includes wearing a political T-shirt.
The offense is considered a class C misdemeanor.
Haecker said police were called about 9 a.m. Monday to the Bulverde/Spring Branch Library at 131 Bulverde Crossing. Haecker said he spoke with Mauthe and gave him chances to change the shirt and not go to jail.
“He wanted to take a stand,” the chief said. “Unfortunately, he was arrested and taken to jail.”
Haecker said he couldn’t remember the exact phrasing on the shirt but said it went against the letter of the law as laid out in the election code. He said Mauthe didn’t give Haecker or anyone any trouble during the arrest.
Mauthe was cooperative and gentlemanly, Haecker said.
“I went up there and talked to him. I told him, ‘I support you and I appreciate what you’re doing. It’s your right but you’re going about it the wrong way here.’ The election code has very specific rules,” Haecker said. “These are the rules and you have to abide by the rules.”
Police took Mauthe to the Comal County Jail. A jail spokeswoman said Mauthe posted a $700 cash bond and was released the same day.