You know that discussion we’re having about the wisdom of posting Bob Newland’s ballot (or anyone else’s) online? The Board of Elections appears to have read up to the part about Bob Newland but not the part about the First Amendment. Rather than acknowledging a recent federal court ruling that taking a “ballot selfie” is protected by the First Amendment, the Board of Elections discussed clarifying our “don’t show your ballot” law to make clear that you can’t Tweet your ballot.
In draft legislation discussed at yesterday’s meeting, the Board of Elections proposes adding four words to SDCL 12-18-27:
#14: 12-18-27. Marked ballot not to be shown–Folding for deposit in ballot box. No person may show to another or publicize a ballot after it is marked to any person in such a way as to reveal the contents of the ballot, or the name of any candidate for whom the person has marked a vote. Nor may any person solicit the voter to show the voter’s ballot. Immediately after marking the ballot the voter shall fold and refold the ballot, if necessary, leaving the official stamp exposed [Board of Elections, 2017 Proposed Statute Changes, 2016.10.13].
Bring that revision before me in the 2017 Senate, and I’ll take a conservative English teacher’s position: since those four words appear to add no meaning or force to the law, I will vote it down. “Show” encompasses the idea of “another”. To “publicize” is to “show”—i.e., to “make public.” I’ll await testimony on the intent of those four words, but I’m not seeing the need to add them to make clear the state’s intent… and I’m not seeing how those four words get us out of losing the lawsuit that Bob Newland will bring against the statute if A.G. Jackley tries taking away Bob’s liberty again.
Stay tuned—I’ll discuss bigger changes proposed by the Board of Elections in a subsequent post!