A federal judge ruled against a broad ban on photographing voted ballots Friday, throwing out a part of Georgia’s new election law while allowing the rest of it to stand.
The decision is the first time a judge has invalidated a section of the 98-page voting law, which also limits ballot drop boxes, requires more ID to vote absentee and allows the state government to take over county elections.
U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee rejected the law’s sweeping prohibition of photographing or recording any filled-out ballot, finding that such far-reaching restrictions violate freedom of speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Boulee upheld other parts of the law fought in the lawsuit, including a requirement that voters request absentee ballots at least 11 days before election day and a prohibition on election observers communicating information to anyone other than election officials.
“The court recognizes that a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy that should be granted sparingly, especially when it enjoins enforcement of a statute, but finds it is appropriate here given the constitutional rights at stake and plaintiffs’ satisfaction of the requisite burden,” Boulee wrote in a 39-page order.