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Saturday, July 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Hoosiers Can Take Their Selfie Sticks to the Polls

INDIANAPOLIS (CN) - Enjoining a so-called ballot-selfie ban, a federal judge cleared the way for Indiana voters to document themselves fulfilling their civic duty at the polls this November.

Senate Enroll Act 466 took effect on July 1, making it a level-six felony for anyone to take and share pictures of a ballot on social media - unless doing so to document a problem with the voting system.

The law quickly prompted a challenge by the Indiana Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, claiming such restrictions violate free-speech protections.

Indiana argued that the law helps prevent voter fraud, noting the state's history of "buying and selling votes."

U.S. District Judge Sarah Barker sided with social-media mavens on Monday, saying the state failed to show one example of a digital photograph being used in a buying-to-selling-vote scheme.

"Given the evidence before us, Indiana's new law seems far more likely to ensnare a large number of voters wishing to make a political point or expressing their pride in voting or recording the moment for some innocuous personal reason than it is to achieve the State's goal of protecting voters from vote-buying predators," the 20-page decision granting the ACLU an injunction states.

Barker specifically found that the law neither served a compelling interest of the state, nor was the law written in a way to prevent such supposed fraud.

Ken Falk, the legal director of ACLU of Indiana, applauded the vindication of voters' First Amendment rights.

"Taking a picture of one's ballot and sharing it with family and friends is an expression of pride and enthusiasm about voting, and is a form of political speech that must be protected," Falk said in a statement.

The ACLU also successfully fought a similar law in New Hampshire, which prohibited sharing photographs of completed ballots. U.S. District Judge Paul Barbadoro overturned that law in August, on similar grounds, just before the Indiana ACLU filed suit.

The ACLU's Indiana lawsuit specifically included the Indiana secretary of state, the state's election commission and the superintendent of the State Police as defendants.

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