People who hate selfies will love voting in two of the biggest states on Tuesday. Judges on both coasts have upheld state bans on people taking photos of themselves with ballots at polling places in California and New York. In California, a new law will make ballot selfies legal, but it does not take effect until January 1. U.S. district judge William Alsup denied a petition by the American Civil Liberties Union to impose a temporary restraining order on the soon-to-end law.
On the East Coast, District Judge P. Kevin Castel argued that the need to protect voters supersedes free expression concerns. New York city and state bans on showing a person with their marked ballot go back 126 years—even longer than the Cubs’ World Series dry spell. The intent is to protect voters from intimidation efforts, and violation is punishable by a misdemeanor charge.
Part of Judge Castel’s reasoning was that the petition for injunction comes too late—filed just 13 days before Election Day:
“A last-minute, judicially imposed change in the protocol at 5,300 polling places would be a recipe for delays and a disorderly election, as well intentioned voters either took the perfectly posed selfie or struggled with their rarely-used smartphone camera.”
The last part belies a lack of familiarity with selfie fanatics.