Snapchat is wading into the legal battle over whether “ballot selfies” – photos of ballots cast on election days – are a constitutionally protected form of free speech.
The Venice messaging service – which also calls itself a “newsgatherer” – filed a brief supporting a federal court case seeking to overturn a New Hampshire law that prohibits photography at polling places. The laws were put in place to protect the privacy of voters and prevent intimidation and vote buying.
Many states have similar bans or restrictions on photography and filming where ballots are cast, a tradition Snapchat and the plaintiffs in the case say is outdated and unconstitutional.
“The ballot selfie may be a new method of expression, but it’s an expression as old as the Republic itself,” Snapchat’s brief reads. “The State’s clumsy bid to ban it is unconstitutional and should be struck down.”
Defenders of photo and video bans say they prevent the practice of outside parties buying votes. If no record exists, the theory goes, then no one can compel another person to produce proof that they voted a certain way. Challengers, however, say there’s little proof that vote buying exists.
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