ACLU, State Of Indiana Take Ballot Selfie Arguments To Federal Court

Oct 13, 2015

Credit K. Latham / https://www.flickr.com/photos/programwitch/

The ACLU says an Indiana law barring voters from taking pictures of their ballot in the voting booth violates the First Amendment, but the state is countering that the legislature is trying to prevent voter fraud. 

Each side presented their arguments in a federal court hearing Tuesday.

The state offered several potential problems the so-called “ballot selfie” law seeks to prevent: taking photos of one’s ballot could help facilitate buying and selling votes.  Barring pictures of a ballot could also help prevent voter intimidation and coercion. 

Simply put, the state argues that ballot secrecy has been vital for more than a hundred years, and the ballot selfie statute is a natural offshoot of an existing law that bars people from showing their ballot to others. 

However, Judge Sarah Evans Barker noted the state’s position, in her words, “wobbles” on its inability to show evidence of any of those problems; the state couldn’t provide examples of vote buying within the last 25 years.  And ACLU Indiana legal director Ken Falk says even if those problems existed, the law is still too broad.

“There’s no excuse for a law that bans taking pictures of ballots that aren’t completed or taking pictures of ballots that you never intend to share or that you’re going to share for completely innocent reasons,” he says.

Judge Barker says she plans to issue a ruling before the November 3rd election.