Political News

Judge hears testimony about ballot box selfies in New York

Posted August 29

— A judge listened to testimony from witnesses on both sides in a lawsuit seeking to make it legal in the state for voters to photograph their marked ballots.

Judge P. Kevin Castel did not immediately rule Tuesday on the merits of a year-old lawsuit brought by several voters who want to distribute pictures of their ballots on social media.

Last year, the judge refused to shut down the 1890 law just before the presidential election, saying it would "wreak havoc" to let ballot selfies occur at thousands of polling places.

Witnesses on Tuesday included experts for the city and state who defended the state law banning people from showing their marked ballots to others.

Among witnesses for the plaintiffs was Katherine Brezler, who served last year as the national digital director for a group supporting Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, an independent U.S. senator from Vermont.

Brezler, a delegate to the Democratic National Convention for Sanders, said postings on social media are 25 percent more visible when a photograph is included.

Lawyers for the city and state say the bans on photographs at 35,000 polling places statewide are necessary to maintain the integrity of elections. Lawyers and their experts say the confidence people have that their votes will remain secret are shaken when they see pictures of ballots on the internet and they may be less inclined to vote.

The judge has said he will likely rule in the next five weeks. He has questioned in the past whether people taking pictures will be too disruptive at polling places.

Although lawyers for the plaintiffs had asked the judge to clear the way for people voting at home or members of the military overseas to send pictures of their ballots over the internet, no evidence was offered to support the request Tuesday, and the judge dismissed those claims.

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