The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Wednesday against a New Hampshire law banning electronic devices in the ballot booth, making way for individuals to take “selfies” when voting. The court held that New Hampshire’s HB 366 [materials], which prohibited individuals from making their marked ballots known to other individuals, is unconstitutional. The legislation later amended to state, “This prohibition shall include taking a digital image or photograph of his or her marked ballot and distributing or sharing the image via social media or by any other means.” As a result, individuals were guilty of violating the bill if they took selfies while voting. The state argued the provision was to uphold the election process to prevent election intimidation. The appeals court held:
Digital photography, the internet, and social media are not unknown quantities—they have been ubiquitous for several election cycles, without being shown to have the effect of furthering vote buying or voter intimidation. As the plaintiffs note, “small cameras” and digital photography “have been in use for at least 15 years,” and New Hampshire cannot identify a single complaint of vote buying or intimidation related to a voter’s publishing a photograph of a marked ballot during that period. Indeed, Secretary Gardner has admitted that New Hampshire has not received any complaints of vote buying or voter intimidation since at least 1976, nor has he pointed to any such incidents since the nineteenth century.
The First Circuit’s decision upholds a lower court ruling that had also struck down the ban on selfies.
As the election draws close, voting rights are becoming a contentious issue. A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted [JURIST report] a motion on Tuesday blocking Illinois from allowing voter registration on dlection day in the state’s most populated counties. The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Friday struck down [JURIST report] a procedure implemented by the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted that effectively eliminated inactive voters from registration rolls if they failed to respond to letters requesting confirmation of their status and addresses. Advocacy groups last Thursday filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the redrawn boundaries for North Carolina’s congressional seats.