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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Cell phones at polls problematic

Voters casting ballots via electronic voting machines in Marietta, Ga.
Many young voters have been recording their vote with cell phone cameras despite a law prohibiting taking pictures in polling places. Some say that since a paper verification is not possible with electronic voting machines, they are taking photos of the ballot as some proof of their vote. Others are just doing it because they want to make "cool" Facebook postings.

Most voters taking these pictures are unaware they are breaking the law unless they are caught and told about it by poll watchers, for there are no signs in polling places prohibiting photographs.

Poll Manager Lamont Paul in Cobb County, Ga. said that taking a picture of your vote with a cell phone camera is not a verifiable alternative, and it is definitely against the law. "People have come in and tried to take pictures of their children voting for the first time," said Paul.

Again, the 2006 Georgia Code, Section 21-2-413 states:
No elector shall use photographic or other electronic monitoring or recording devices or cellular telephones while such elector is within the enclosed space in a polling place.
Additionally, Section 21-2-414(e) specifically bans the use of a cell phone or other communications device once a person has been issued a ballot or is inside the voting booth.  Taken together, these two sections indicate that you are violating the law if you record your own vote with a cellphone photo. The law, however, does not say what will happen to you if you take a picture of how you voted.

Voters preparing to vote at Addison Elementary School in Cobb County, Ga.
In a memo signed by David Hankerson, Cobb County Manager, "...the law also states that the Poll Manager, in his or her discretion, may allow the use of photographic devices in the polling place under such conditions and limitations as the election superintendent finds appropriate, so long as no photos are allowed of a ballot, a machine face while a voter is voting the ballot, or of an electronic elector's list."
Members of the media can take photos of people voting as long as the poll manager agrees and voters being photographed do not protest. Media also are not allowed to take pictures of the ballot, a machine face, or an elector's voting list.
©2012 Tomi Johnson. All rights reserved.

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