New Hampshire to defend ban on ballot-box selfies in court

Daily News Article - September 14, 2016


1. The first paragraph of a news article should answer the questions who, what, where and when. List the who, what, where and when of this news item. (NOTE: The remainder of a news article provides details on the why and/or how.)

2. Why did New Hampshire pass the 2014 law?

3. Three New Hampshire voters are challenging the law. One of the voters, Andrew Langlois, thought someone was playing a joke on him when he received a call from the New Hampshire attorney general’s office telling him he was under investigation for posting a ballot selfie on social media, according to the lawsuit. Mr. Langlois had written in the name of his dead dog, Akira, snapped a photo of the ballot and posted it on Facebook, triggering the investigation, according to court documents. Mr. Langlois could face a fine of $1,000, if the law is reinstated. The investigation of Mr. Langlois and the other two plaintiffs is on hold pending the outcome of the First Circuit case.
On what grounds did these voters sue?

4. What argument is New Hampshire using to defend the law?

5. From a September 11 Wall Street Journal article:

A lower federal court in New Hampshire pronounced the law unconstitutional in an August 2015 ruling, finding state officials failed to provide a single example of a ballot selfie used to facilitate vote buying or coercion. New Hampshire appealed the ruling to the First Circuit.

New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner, whose office pushed for the ban and who is named as the defendant in the case, acknowledged in legal papers there was “little evidence of vote buying and voter coercion schemes currently being executed with the use of digital imagery.”

But New Hampshire has a compelling interest in trying to prevent potential problems and ensuring “purity and integrity of our elections by protecting the longstanding tradition of the secret ballot,” his lawyer, Stephen LaBonte of the New Hampshire attorney general’s office, wrote in the March brief.

Lawyers for three New Hampshire voters challenging the 2014 law asked the First Circuit to disregard the state’s “apocalyptic” speculation about the potential for ballot selfies to fuel corrupt elections.

The law, wrote lawyers Gilles Bissonnette and William Christie, “fails to realize the critical importance of online political speech under the First Amendment as well as to American culture.”

New Hampshire was the first state to prohibit ballot selfies, but many states have older laws that forbid voters from showing marked ballots or the face of voting machines to others.

Since 2011, at least five states—Maine, Oregon, Utah, Arizona, and California—have carved out exceptions that allow voters to share photos of their ballots, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, which is representing the voters in the 2014 lawsuit.

How do you think the court should rule? Is it possible that selfies in the voting booth could compromise the purity and integrity of our elections?  Explain your answer.

6. Ask a parent: would you take a selfie at the ballot box? Why or why not?