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Foes Make One More Attempt To Block Ballot Selfies Ban Before Election Day

Nov 1, 2016

Voting Booth
Credit Sam Felder / flickr.com

With a week to go before Election Day, opponents of Michigan’s ban on voters taking selfies with their ballots are back in court.


There’s a legal scramble on after a lower court in Michigan joined federal courts in other states that struck down similar rules as violations of free speech rights.  Then a federal appeals court restored Michigan’s ban.

The Sixth Circuit US Court of Appeals ruled last week that it’s too late to change the rules, and the ban should stay in place until there’s time to argue the issue after the election. 

But Stephen Klein says that’s not fair to voters participating in this election.  He’s an attorney challenging the ban.

“Even if there’s going to be some inconvenience on the part of the Secretary of State, that shouldn’t allow them to have an administrative interest over the First Amendment,” he said.  “The loss of First Amendment freedoms, even for a short period of time, is an irreparable harm.” 

Klein also says voters have already been taking ballot selfies and posting them to social media without knowing they’re violating the law, and without disrupting elections.

The state says the ban is nevertheless necessary to safeguard against intimidation and vote-buying.  A state law forbids voters from publicly exposing their ballots after they’re filled out.  A state Elections Bureau interpretation of the law says that includes taking selfies with ballots and posting the pictures to social media. 

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org