A South Philly Woman Voted in a Dinosaur Costume

Shaunna Van Elsis, a bartender at South Bowl and a comedian, wore her Halloween costume to vote. We asked her about it.

Shaunna Van Elsis stopped this afternoon when she saw her Halloween costume still sitting on the floor of her room. She’d worn a giant inflatable dinosaur outfit on Halloween and hadn’t put it away yet. She was cleaning the house and picked up her costume.

“I just looked at it,” she says. “I hadn’t voted yet, and I’m like: You know what, you see all those YouTube videos of the dinosaurs ice skating, and I figured, ‘Why not?’”

It was dark by the time Van Elsis went to her polling place. She wore street clothes and carried the costume, explaining she didn’t want to frighten anyone in her district. She signed in, and asked the poll workers a question they certainly couldn’t have expected: Could I vote in this dinosaur costume?

What happened next was shocking to her: “They said yeah! I couldn’t believe it!”

Two voters told her her stunt was “insulting,” but Van Elsis says 90 percent of the people she encountered in her precinct loved her costumed vote. People were taking photos and video, and even posing for selfies with her.

Van Elsis is a lifelong South Philadelphian, and currently works as a bartender at South Bowl. As you might guess, she does improv comedy in the city. She hoped her voting stunt might go viral, and we are more than happy to assist her in that goal.

There is nothing in Pennsylvania’s voting rules against voting in a non-political costume. As long as they could confirm her identity and she wasn’t intimidating anyone, this was a legal vote. She did just that, checking in at the desk first and asking if she could walk into the booth dressed as a dinosaur.

She declined to say whom she voted for in the presidential election, but said some observers did come up with an instant slogan upon seeing her: “Dinos for Dems!” She said Hillary supporters seemed to like the dinosaur costume more than Trump fans did.

“Once I had the idea I was determined [to do it],” Van Elsis says. “I’m so glad they allowed me to do this.”