Dublin's parade policy is getting attention as the city prepares for more than 20,000 spectators for its annual Independence Day parade.

Dublin's parade policy is getting attention as the city prepares for more than 20,000 spectators for its annual Independence Day parade.

The American Civil Liberties Union in a June 16 letter to Dublin alleged that the city's parade policy is "unconstitutional" when it comes to candidates for public office.

"I am referring to the policy which prohibits candidates for public office from campaigning, using the words 'elect' or 'vote for,' and passing out literature or any printed material during the city's upcoming Fourth of July parade," ACLU Ohio legal director James Hardiman wrote. "It is my understanding that while sitting public officials are permitted to display their names and currently held positions, non-incumbents are prohibited from identifying who they are and the offices to which they are seeking election."

Dublin's law director, Stephen Smith, this week said the city is working with the national group to find a solution.

"We're talking to them," he said. "We think some changes may be in order."

The policy, according to Hardiman, violates the "rights of expression afforded to candidates under the First Amendment."

According to Dublin's parade guidelines, the only entries allowed in the Independence Day parade are commercial, nonprofit, elected officials, parade partners and parade or event sponsors.

In 2008, the city decided to change its parade policy to allow only elected officials.

"We looked at overall entries in the parade, and our goal was to improve the quality of the parade and keep it at an appropriate length," city spokesperson Sandra Puskarcik said. "We were hearing from some spectators that the parade was getting too long and the entertainment value was decreasing."

According to the current parade policy, only elected officials who represent the residents of Dublin may participate, but they may not "actively campaign during the parade on the parade route. They, and the members of their unit, may wear clothing with the elected official's entry name and current title on it, but it may not say, 'Elect or Vote For.'"

Political candidates, the policy states, "may not participate in the parade."

The act of letting current officials participate in the parade gives them an advantage over other candidates, Hardiman's letter stated.

"To allow already elected officials to participate in the parade while denying other candidates all opportunities to display any type of self-identification clearly favors incumbents," he wrote.

Hardiman suggested allowing all candidates to campaign at the Fourth of July parade.

"Therefore, since political campaigning is core political speech, there is no better way to celebrate our nation's heritage than by encouraging the exercise of First Amendment rights," he said.