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Voting Clipart

Voting Clipart

Yesterday, the First Circuit Court of Appeals said that the New Hampshire law banning a person from displaying a marked ballot reflecting how he or she voted including posting of those images on social media sites violates First Amendment rights of voters. The law carried up to a $1,000 fine. The appellate court determined that the law violates free speech rights protected by the First Amendment. The law was enacted to avoid vote buying and voter intimidation, what it did was spark a controversy in this social media age over the “ballot selfie”. The law, which originated in one form in 1891 was intended to combat voter intimidation and vote buying. It was amended in 1911 to forbid any voter from “allowing his ballot to be seen by any person, with the intention of letting it be known how he is about to vote.” In 2014 New Hampshire amended that statute to read:

No voter shall allow his or her ballot to be seen by any person with the intention of letting it be known how he or she is about to vote or how he or she has voted except as provided in R.S.A. 659:20. 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. 

The appellate court determined that just applying intermediate scrutiny the statute is unconstitutional. Intermediate scrutiny basically means that the statute has to at least be narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest. There is no proof that vote buying or voter intimidation is an actual problem in New Hampshire and there was definitely no proof that posting how you voted on Facebook or Twitter or Snapchat was going to cause any voter intimidation or vote buying and most definitely none sufficient to outweigh the First Amendment free speech rights that were being affected by the statute.

The appellate court in upholding the district court’s ruling completed its opinion with the simple adage “a picture is worth a thousand words”. You can read more about this here.

In Vermont there is no law against photographing your ballot, but since there is a law still on the books about publishing how you are going to vote before you cast your ballot, wait to post that selfie until you have already submitted your ballot. But probably the most important take on all of this is that, ballot selfie or not, we all should get out there and vote.

DSCN3175I love the autumn — the crisp air, the colorful leaves, the warmth of the wood stove with a cup of tea and a good book. What I don’t like very much is when it’s dark in the morning and then dark again early in the evening. Evidently, I am not alone. The state of Massachusetts is exploring time travel of sorts. Massachusetts’ Bill H4569 creates a legislative commission to study the proposal of moving time in the state of Massachusetts. Rather than remain in the Eastern time zone, the bill charges the commission with exploring the possibility of moving time zones to Atlantic Standard time for a period of four months starting in the middle of November if the proposal was accepted. This would mean that folks in Massachusetts would have light lasting longer into their day. According to the Portland Press Herald, a sort of “sunlight happy hour” while the rest of us are in the dark before we leave our workday behind us during those months. Don’t get all practical on me with things like “it will mess up the rest of us” or “what about business hours and flight schedules, yada yada yada….” A girl can dream can’t she?

Now, if they could just make it so that the hour happened in the morning instead of the evening, I would be totally on board.

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