Crusading to eliminate the scourge of “ballot selfies”
Illustration: Brendan Lynch
At a time when many people are living out their lives on social media, taking a picture of your ballot after you’ve voted and posting it on Instagram might seem as innocuous as capturing a particularly nice swirl on the top of your latte.
In New Hampshire, though, it’s illegal — and you could be fined $1,000 if you get caught.
The man behind this new form of digital harassment is State Representative Timothy Horrigan, a Durham Democrat who, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader, worries that allowing people to post such photos “compromises the secrecy and decency of the ballot.”
Horrigan’s pet proposal took effect in September 2014. That November the law was the subject of protest by selfie-posting voters — including State Representative Leon Rideout, a Lancaster Republican. The ACLU of New Hampshire is representing Rideout and two other voters in federal court in an effort to overturn the law on free-speech grounds.
To be fair, many New Hampshire officials agree with Horrigan. And according to NPR, the Digital Media Law Project found that most states ban ballot selfies.
But as the ACLU points out in its lawsuit, it is absurd to believe that the law will prevent “vote buying and voter coercion,” which is what Horrigan and other supporters contend. Rather, the law infringes on a particularly benign form of political speech that is protected by the First Amendment.
So smile, Representative Horrigan. And hold that ballot a little closer so we can get a nice, clear picture.