Should "ballot selfies" be banned?
A federal lawsuit filed by two Coloradans says no
A Colorado state senator and a University of Denver student have filed a lawsuit challenging a state law that prohibits voters from sharing photos of their complete ballots on social media.
State Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and Scott Romano, 18, a registered Democrat, filed the suit in federal court on Monday, claiming the law that prohibits "ballot selfies" infringes on free-speech rights. Colorado is one of 18 states with laws that prohibit sharing ballot photos, ostensibly to help uphold the integrity of elections and protect voters from intimidation.
Federal judges have struck down similar bans in New Hampshire and Indiana, and California and Rhode Island have changed their laws. An effort to change Colorado's law has failed twice in legislative sessions.
Hill said he believes the lawsuit is an important step to protect voters’ free speech rights while still continuing to safeguard privacy and other necessary voter protections.
“My generation, millennials, are sometimes known as the ‘selfie generation'," he said. "The last thing we need is a law on the books that discourages voter participation and makes people afraid to share in political discourse in Colorado.”
Attorney Michael Francisco, who filed suit, said all Coloradans should have the right to share their voting decisions.
“The First Amendment protects this valuable form of political discourse,” he said. “Courts across the country are recognizing that broad laws prohibiting ballot pictures are unconstitutional, and we look forward to adding Colorado to the list of states where free speech about a voted ballot can be shared without fear of criminal prosecution.”
Romano, who is a first-time voter, said changing the law was common sense.
"This isn’t a partisan issue," he said. "It’s about upholding our constitutional rights and advocating for the full participation of every registered Colorado voter."