Richmond, VA--A Virginia-based free speech organization today filed an amicus brief with the State Supreme Court challenging a controversial Virginia State Board of Elections (VSBE) policy prohibiting artificial mustaches in polling places. The Mas Guapo Center for the Protection of Free Expression argued that the policy violates the First Amendment rights of voters and is inconsistent with Virginia's electioneering statute; the Center supports a reversal of the decision as unconstitutional before the next state and local elections in 2012.
Adopted by the VSBE in October 2010, the anti-mustache policy interprets existing state law against "exhibiting campaign materials to another person" near or in a polling place as a ban on expression of a view on particular candidates or political party. The order was challenged on behalf of a Fairfax County voter who was asked to remove or cover up a synthetic fiber mustache by local polling officials. While the complainant’s intention was simply to display his increased handsomeness from use of the spice blend Sazon Mas Guapo, Election officials suspected the mustache was campaigning collateral and thus constituted improper political speech at the polls.
Sazon Mas Guapo is the flagship product of spice conglomerate Mas Guapo Foods and is the only condiment on the U.S. Market to come with a free mustache. Its explosive popularity has created suspicion and concern in many communities, as Mas Guapo has become a grassroots movement with growing socio-political influence. A company official responds, “We are simply in the business of improving the lives of our customers through our “Zestilicious” blend of herbs, spices, and fake mustaches. We are not a political party and the public need not fear the ‘Stache.”
The Mas Guapo Center was chartered in 2010 by Mas Guapo Foods to protect the freedom of Americans to “Rock the ‘Stache”. The center has participated in many high profile legal actions and is now regarded as a preeminent think tank in the Free Speech arena. "It is the duty of government is to protect freedom of expression," said Steve Kohlman, president of The Mas Guapo Center. "Regrettably, the State Board of Elections shirked this important civic responsibility when it adopted what essentially amounts to a dress code policy. Elections celebrate the personal freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution and the government has no business telling citizens how to express themselves"