Judge bans ballot-box selfies in New York

New Yorkers won't be able to snap ballot selfies on election day

A Manhattan federal judge ruled Thursday that a state law banning images of marked ballots was legal under the Constitution.

The decision by Judge P. Kevin Castel tossed a lawsuit brought by three New Yorkers against the new ballot selfie law.

"Taking a photograph of a filled out ballot is a powerful political statement that demonstrates the importance of voting,” the plaintiffs argued in court papers. “Without the photograph, the message loses its power."

But Castel found that the government "convincingly demonstrated that secret ballots remain critical to combating vote buying and voter intimidation" — and that the law is "narrowly tailored" to protect integrity in elections.

Castel didn't buy arguments that the law undermines free speech.

"The statute prohibits showing another person one's marked the ballot, regardless of the contents, it is viewpoint neutral," he said in his ruling.

RELATED: Weird Government Quiz: Strangest Ballot Propositions

Weird Government Quiz: Strangest Ballot Propositions
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Weird Government Quiz: Strangest Ballot Propositions

A. Arizona tried to claim sovereignty over the Grand Canyon
B. Texas tried to seize the Gulf of Mexico
C. Virginia tried to declare itself master of the Chesapeake Bay
D. New York tried to claim ownership of Lake Erie

A. Guam
B. Puerto Rico
C. American Samoa
D. The U.S. Virgin Islands

Answer: B. In a non-binding referendum held on Tuesday, 61% of Puerto Ricans voted to become America's 51st state. As a side-note, 58% of Puerto Ricans live, not on the island, but in the 50 states.

A. Allowed adult film stars to deduct breast enhancements as a business expense
B. Created a special tax incentive to encourage pornographic production companies to relocate to economically depressed cities
C. Allowed producers who film movies in their homes to declare their houses "mixed use" properties that qualify for a property tax easement
D. Required all pornographic film actors in Los Angeles to wear condoms while shooting sex scenes

Answer: D. Measure B, the "Safer Sex in the Film Industry Act," received 56% of the popular vote in Los Angeles. The new law requires adult film producers to apply for special permits. Their sets can be visited and inspected at any time, and all actors are required to wear condoms. Many people in the city's adult film industry worry that the new restrictions will encourage the industry to find another home.

A. Intentionally harming a dog, cat or horse
B. Eating a dog, cat or horse
C. Operating an unlicensed animal breeding facility
D. Leaving money to your dog, cat or horse

Answer: A. In North Dakota, deliberately harming a dog, cat or horse is only a misdemeanor. Measure 5 would have made doing so a class C felony. Specifically, it would have charged "Any individual who maliciously and intentionally burns, poisons, crushes, suffocates, impales, drowns, blinds, skins, beats to death, drags to death, exsanguinates, disembowels, or dismembers any living dog, cat, or horse."

A. Required state officials to translate the constitution into Spanish
B. Changed the way the state draws political boundaries
C. Required state officials to edit the state constitution to reflect current vocabulary usage
D. Created a new interactive website where Oregon's citizens can explore the history of their state constitution and code of laws

Answer: C. Written in 1857, Oregon's state constitution is littered with misspellings, archaic word choices and grammatical errors. Measure 78, which received 62% of the vote will update the constitution's wording and correct its misspellings.

A. Massachusetts and California
B. Iowa and Maryland
C. Virginia and Florida
D. Montana and Colorado

Answer: D. On Tuesday, 66% of Montanans voted for initiative 166, which states that "corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights." Meanwhile, Coloradans passed Amendment 65, which required the state's congressional delegation to "propose and support" a constitutional amendment that would reverse Citizens United.

A. It enables state police to demand to see the identification of any person they suspect of being an undocumented immigrant.
B. It streamlines deportation procedures for undocumented immigrants.
C. It allows undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition rates and financial aid if they have attended a Maryland high school for at least three years
D. It allows undocumented immigrants to live in state-funded housing

Answer: C. In Maryland, students who have spent at least three years in a Maryland high school will now be able to qualify for in-state tuition at the state's public colleges and universities, as well as access to Maryland financial aid. Such students will have to attend a community college for the first two years of school, after which they can transfer to a four-year institution.


He agreed with city officials' arguments that a no-photography policy is a practical way to avoid delays at the polls — which could turn some away from casting ballots.

"Some voters will require multiple photographs to capture their ballot along with themselves in different poses, or repeated photographs where the original was inadequate due to deficient lighting, disheveled hair, or misplaced accessories," Castel wrote.

A city Law Department spokesman touted the ruling, saying, "We are pleased with the ruling which upholds an important statute and (Board of Elections) policy intended to preserve the integrity of our voting process."

Lawyers for the three New Yorkers said they plan to appeal the ruling.

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