Enlarge / A Los Angeles polling place as seen in 2012.Stephen Velasco
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On Wednesday, ACLU lawyers will square off against attorneys representing the California Secretary of State, asking a federal judge in San Francisco to impose a temporary restraining order on an already-overturned state law that forbids ballot selfies.
Two days earlier, various California chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to essentially accelerate the effective date of a new law that specifically legalizes ballot selfies.
The new law was signed by the governor on Sept. 29, 2016.
As of now, however, that law does not take effect until Jan. 1, 2017.
Given that America conducts federal elections from the state and local level, the nation has no single election law.
Instead, the US has a patchwork of ballot selfie legality.
In late September 2016, the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a similar New Hampshire state law that banned the practice, calling it “facially unconstitutional.”
This new lawsuit, filed by ACLU chapters representing Northern California, Southern California, and San Diego and Imperial Counties, argues that the previous law, which is still on the books, is similarly unconstitutional.
Michael Risher, an attorney at the ACLU of Northern California, wrote the following in a statement:
People increasingly use photographs of their marked ballot as a way to express their support for candidates and issues.
This is core political speech at the heart of the First Amendment. People have a constitutional right to share these photos, and I’m surprised that the government is trying to deny them this fundamental right when there is still a week before Election Day.
The hearing before US District Judge William Alsup is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 2, 12pm PT in Courtroom 8, 19th Floor, 450 Golden Gate Avenue, San Francisco.
(Full disclosure: according to the State of California, this reporter has already broken the law.)