A day long debate over a Pasco pastor’s political sign posted outside of his Grace of God Church precinct ended when an angry woman yanked it out of the ground, tossed it in her truck and drove away.
“The cure is to get rid of the sign,” said Pasco Democratic Party officer Meghan Hamer moments before the other woman removed the sign.
Pastor Al Carlisle insisted he was simply expressing his First Amendment rights by posting a sign saying “Don’t vote for Democrats Tuesday “ about 100 feet from the his New Port Rickey church with serves as Pasco Precinct 34.
“That doesn’t make sense do you mean that I lose my rights as a citizen if I become a pastor and a proprietor of a polling place I lose my right to voice an opinion,” Carlisle said.
Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley pleaded with Carlisle to remove the sign and later told 8 On Your Side it was legal—along with all of the other political sings 100 feet from the poll—but inappropriate because Carlisle also runs the church serving as the polling place.
Corley told Carlisle and 8 On our Side he will not allow the church to serve as a polling place again after receiving a flood of complaints.
Pasco Democrats called it voter intimidation and insisted it broke election laws. “As a Christian and someone with two ministry degrees I find it appalling that we would say you have to vote for a certain party or not vote for a certain party and pray Jesus they get elected,” Hamer said.
“I’m absolutely disturbed and were trying to have a free and fair election and you have the person who owns the polling place expressing that he’s absolutely hostile, its of course disturbing,” said voter Marques Andre Johnson who debated vigorously with Carlisle outside of the poll.
“If you can vote Democrat and go in and sing I love Jesus on Sunday, that’s between you and God,” Carlisle said.