- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A lawyer representing the district attorney for Denver said his client will not pursue charges against Colorado voters in his jurisdiction who take so-called ballot selfies, the Denver Post reported Wednesday.

A century-old law on the books aimed at thwarting vote-buying forbids the practice of taking photos of your ballot, the Denver Post noted, a restriction which may run afoul of constitutional free-speech protections.

“There is no threat of a possible prosecution. … There is no intent by the D.A.’s office to chill free speech,” insisted Andrew Ringel, attorney for Denver D.A. Mitch Morrissey, at a hearing in U.S. District Court on Wednesday. Mr. Ringel was attempting to convince Judge Christine Arguello that it was unnecessary to issue a temporary injunction ordering the district attorney to not enforce the relevant law.

For her part, however, Judge Arguello pointed out that Mr. Morrissey’s office had previously warned voters in a press release not to share photos of their marked ballots and that his backpedaling on this point was a tacit admission that the law was likely an infringement on free-speech rights.

“There are valid Constitutional problems with this statute conceded by the defense,” Judge Arguello said, the Denver Post reported.

While many states or local jurisdictions have ballot-selfie bans — Justin Timberlake reportedly ran afoul of Tennessee’s in October — the case law on the question is unsettled.

No Supreme Court decision has ever been handed down on the matter, but in September the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that New Hampshire’s ban was unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, in California, the American Civil Liberties Union is seeking a stay on enforcement of the Golden State’s ballot-selfie ban. While the governor signed a repeal of the ban recently, it won’t go into effect until Jan. 1, the Los Angeles Times said Tuesday.

For his part, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who oversees the elections process for the state, suggested he’s happy with whatever the courts may decide.

“My office stands ready to comply with any decision handed down by the court on this matter,” he said in a statement, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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