A federal judge Monday barred Indiana from enforcing a new law that prohibits voters from taking photos of their election ballots and sharing the images on social media.
U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued a preliminary injunction preventing the state from enforcing the “ballot selfies law” that made it a potential felony to post photos of a marked ballot on social media.
In her 20-page ruling, Barker invoked Supreme Court of the United States Justice Louis Brandeis’ 1928 warning that “the greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”
“Over the course of the eighty-seven years that have passed since he sounded this warning, neither the truth nor the importance of his observation has waned. If anything, they have increased and expanded and, as is apparent from the issues before us in this litigation, assumed a new urgency,” Barker wrote.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana had sued the state over the law, contending it violates voters’ First Amendment rights.
“We felt, as did the judge, that is a clear content-based regulation of speech, which is unconstitutional,” ACLU attorney Ken Falk said.
Asked whether the ruling meant voters will be posting a deluge of “selfies” with their ballots on Election Day, Falk said, “I don't think so. I don’t think this was a problem before the lawsuit.”
The ruling prevents the state from enforcing the law pending further order by the court.
Deputy Indiana Attorney General Dennis Mullen argued before Barker last week that the law’s intent was to maintain the integrity of the ballot by removing a tool that could be used to commit voter fraud. He described a situation in which a voter is coerced by either an organization or peers to vote a certain way and to provide proof, such as a photo.
A message seeking comment was left for a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.