Law against taking selfies while voting won’t be enforced in Ulster

(Photo by Ellen de Vos)

(Photo by Ellen de Vos)

Ashley Dittus, Democrat deputy co-chair of the county Board of Elections, said voters are permitted to text or look up information on their smart phones while in a voting booth, and even though it is illegal to take a selfie in the booth, poll workers will not issue a violation to the picture taker.

“The law says that a voter cannot show a completed ballot, and a selfie can be interpreted as the same thing,” Dittus explained.

A recent story in Time magazine reports that taking a selfie in a voting booth is illegal not only in New York but also in the neighboring states of New Jersey and Massachusetts. It is legal in Connecticut. In all, the magazine found that it is illegal in 18 states and legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. The remaining states have mixed laws.

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Dittus said the New York prohibition is being challenged in a Manhattan court. The plaintiffs are arguing the ban is a violation of their First Amendment rights. Back in , the days of Tammany Hall, Boss Tweed and his successors controlled New York City, and state politics in Albany. If enough money was paid to Tammany Hall, the ward bosses could guarantee the outcome of an election. In order to get paid, the voter would have to show the boss their completed ballot.

So, in fact, elections were rigged.

Over the years, Tammany Hall’s influenced waned, and rigged elections at least in New York apparently became a thing of the past.

But now, with millennials’ obsession with selfies, that old law is back in the news. “However it’s a law we will not be enforcing,” Dittus said.

 

Fully staffed at the polls

Dittus also reports the county election board has been successful in its efforts to add more poll workers to help things move smoothly at the busier polling places. “We’ve filled all our vacancies,” Dittus said. Training sessions are taking place this week.

“We will have information tables staffed at polling places, and affidavit tables as well,” Dittus said.

The affidavit tables are for voters whose names are not in a voting book, but who say they are from a voting district and entitled to vote. This situation comes up when a voter has moved, is properly registered to vote, but whose name has not yet been added to a voting book. The person fills out an affidavit swearing to the fact they do indeed live in that district and they are then permitted to cast a ballot.

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on November 8.

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