DENVER - A state senator filed a federal lawsuit Monday seeking to strike down a Colorado law that bans voters from taking photographs of their completed ballots.
In the lawsuit, Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) argued that Colorado’s ballot selfie ban “chilled” him and other voters “from being permitted to engage in the simple act of posting a photo of a ballot as a political expression.”
"This is completely up to the people to share and choose how they do that. Obviously social media is a way that many of us choose to communicate with a lot of friends. This should be a freedom they have," said Senator Hill in an interview with Next.
Hill’s lawsuit includes an 18-year-old co-plaintiff, Scott Romano of Littleton, who also wanted to take a photograph of his ballot.
Romano, a first-time Democratic voter, also spoke with Next Monday.
"I think individuals should have the right to choose to share their ballot and how they depend on doing that is up to them, whether it's a ballot selfie, or a photo with your kids at a polling center," said Romano.
Colorado’s law, which originated in 1891, makes it a misdemeanor for a voter to show his or her ballot “in such a way as to reveal its contents.”
The lawsuit points out that similar bans on photos of ballots have been struck down in other states, including New Hampshire and Indiana.
It asks for the court to declare Colorado’s law unconstitutional and ban the state from enforcing it.
"This act of voting is one of the most sacred rights that we can enjoy here and if we choose to do that publicly that is joined with another one of our rights - that is free speech," said Hill. 'This is a great way to encourage people to be active, to be a part of their process."
Last week, the Denver District Attorney’s office published a press release reminding voters that ballot selfies are grounds for criminal charges in the state. The suit cites the press release as part of its argument that the state is chilling this form of political speech.
The Colorado Deputy Secretary of State told 9NEWS on Monday that no response has been filed yet and likely won't be for a couple of days.
“We believe the current law protects the integrity of the election and protects voters from intimidation or inducement. In fact, given Colorado’s unique election system and rise of social networking, the prohibition may be more important in Colorado than in other states and may be more timely today than ever. “
The case is receiving legal help from the Pillar of Law Institute, which litigates First Amendment cases.
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