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A Comment on Elections NS and Its Recommendation to Prevent Ballot Photos



Over the past 24 hours, CBC News reported that Elections Nova Scotia is attempting to push recommendations for the penalization of a voter taking a photograph of his/her own ballot.  I find the justification for any such penalties to be — to say the least — unconvincing.

Voters should be able to take photos of their own ballots — at will.  I believe that such a device helps to ensure the propriety and correctness of the voting process.  Call me cynical — I only come from Florida, where I served (from 2004-2012) as chief county/regional elections counsel for scores of Democratic Party candidates — including John Kerry and Barack Obama.  Also, I cannot (and, likely, will never) get over what happened in Florida in 2000, nor the legislative and executive-based responses to the nightmare that is Bush v. Gore.  In effect, policymakers — both state and federal — made the process even less secure, especially as they resorted to mandating the use of computer-based systems, including Optical Scan devices and even touchscreen devices.  These devices are — as reflected in several studies — insecure and, potentially, easily hacked.

Elections Nova Scotia believes that taking a photo of your marked ballot will allow for voters to be coerced into voting a particular way, while presenting proof to whomever is extorting the voter.  I find such fears specious, as there is (1) no proof of such occurring, and (2) even if there were the rare case of such, Elections Nova Scotia would be unlikely to prevent a voter from presenting such proof.  Are we to now ‘pat-down’ voters for cellular devices before they enter the voting area?

Instead, the core issue should revolve around ensuring the proper counting/recounting of ballots.  If this was so, then Elections Nova Scotia would not be supporting the further penalization of voters, but instead supporting the rescinding of any law that prohibits a voter from photographing his/her own ballot card.

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