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Lawyers for Colorado say statute banning 'ballot selfies' isn't being enforced

Lawyers for Colorado say statute banning 'ballot selfies' isn't being enforced
Posted at 1:33 PM, Nov 02, 2016

DENVER – Lawyers for the state of Colorado argued in federal court Wednesday morning that there is no reason to challenge the state’s law banning “ballot selfies” because district attorneys have said they won’t enforce the law.

Two lawsuits – which have been lumped together -- were filed in U.S. District Court of Colorado challenging Colorado Revised Statute CRS §1-13-712, which has origins in the late 1800s and forbids Coloradans from showing their completed ballots to anyone else or revealing how they voted.

One of the suits was filed by a state representative and a young voter; the other was filed by a spokeswoman for the Libertarian Party and two voters.

The plaintiffs in both cases want a judge to issue a preliminary injunction against the state enforcing the law, saying portions of it violate free speech protections under the First and/or Fourteenth Amendments.

The judge hearing the cases, Judge Christine Arguello, said in court Wednesday the statute might violate free speech clauses in the constitution.

Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, argued that if no one is being prosecuted under the law, it should be struck down.

Several of the other plaintiffs in the case, aside from Hill, testified at Wednesday’s evidentiary hearing.

Judge Arguello said the “damage” had already been done by the Denver District Attorney’s Office after DA Mitch Morrissey issued a warning that posting "ballot selfies" is a misdemeanor and that recalling the news release would do nothing.

A report by Vox says ballot selfies are legal in 22 states and Washington, D.C., illegal in 16 states, and the law is unclear in the remaining 13 states.

On Friday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a similar rule banning “ballot selfies” in Michigan.

A federal judge in San Francisco refused to block California’s law banning ballot selfies in a hearing Wednesday, saying allowing people to do so this close to Election Day would confuse voters and poll workers.

The Colorado hearing was adjourned for the day around 4 p.m. It will begin again at 10 a.m. Thursday.

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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