Social media and the sanctity of the voting place are colliding in Michigan, where a Portage man is asserting a constitutional right to take “ballot selfies” by challenging the state’s long-standing ban on voting station and polling place photography. Joel Crookston, 32, sued the state in Grand Rapids federal court last month, arguing his First Amendment right to free speech was unconstitutionally limited by state law and policies designed to discourage voter intimidation. “State law and orders from the Secretary of State threaten Crookston and all Michigan voters with forfeiting their votes, fines and even imprisonment for this simple, effective act of political speech,” attorney Stephen Klein wrote in a request for a preliminary injunction filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.
But the ballot exposure law, which dates back to 1891, helped eliminate what had been problems with vote buying and coercion, said Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams.
The Michigan law and policy “are justified by the state’s long-standing interest in protecting the secrecy of the ballot and protecting those who seek to exercise their right to vote from distraction, harassment, or intimidation,” Attorney General Bill Schuette wrote in a court filing, defending Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.
A federal appeals court last week struck down a similar law in New Hampshire, noting the state could not document a single instance of voter intimidation related to ballot photos posted on social media.
Full Article: Michigan ‘ballot selfie’ ban stirs court challenge.