Election Day Bloggers' Legal Guide:

Lauren Gelman of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School passes along this item:

Lots of bloggers are planning to cover the 2006 general elections on November 7. But what are the legal issues that you need to understand?

Such as: Can you be in the voting area except to vote? (Not in Delaware) Can you ask people how they voted? (Not within 50 ft of polling place in Rhode Island). Can you take photos? (In CA it is illegal to photograph, videotape or otherwise record a voter entering or leaving a polling place). And so on.

Student Fellows at Stanford University Law School's Center for Internet and Society will be answering those kinds of questions and more in coming days. Do you have one? Ask it here. We'll compile and publish a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), and post it before the election.

Please note that some election laws vary from state to state. We ask you to tell us your state so we can answer the questions based on the laws of your state. We will also try to answer the question for other states as time permits.

Mark Draughn (mail) (www):
How can making it illegal to photograph someone entering a polling place be squared with freedom of the press?

I've always heard that on public property, such as the sidewalk near a polling place, you can photograph anything you can see. Has the California law ever been tested?
10.28.2006 2:50pm
KeithK (mail):
When it comes to photographing voters there are competing rights. Right of free press against the right of people to vote freely and anonymously. In this case I think the voters' rights trump free press since not much is gained by photographing voters. Now if the restriction was somehow that the press couldn't report on polling places, that would be a different story entirely.
10.28.2006 2:58pm
JT Wenting (mail):
And would be an excellent restriction as it would prevent them from doing tainted exit polls in an attempt to influence the election outcome.
10.28.2006 4:35pm
msmith (mail):
...Lots of bloggers are planning to cover the 2006 general elections on November 7....

That would be a great surprise. Hard pressed to think of any bloggers who do anything beyond rehash media reports and then complain about the fabled "MSM". It would be great if some bloggers actually get out there on election day and actually do some "reporting", just would be quite novel. My guess is a lot of them won't even bother to vote.

Unrelated, but this CSPAN broadcast speech and Q&A by Bush-appointee Jones was very interesting, perhaps can catch a repeat. Ended by saying that when he was appointed by Bush as a District Court judge he expected the occasional threat from criminals, but did not expect his life to be threatened by disgruntled right wing fanatics over a civil suit. Egged on by the right wing "MSM" and Bill O'Reilly and "Judge" Napolitano, etc. Live and learn, joins a growing crowd concerned over judicial independence.

Then again, think back to the 2000 election and some of the thuggery there. So maybe related after all.
Intelligent Design and Judicial Independence
Widener University, School of Law

Judge Jones, who was appointed to the U.S. District Court by President George W. Bush, presided over the case of Kitzmiller v. Dover. In December 2005 he ruled in favor of the 11 Dover, Pennsylvania, parents who sued their local school district for teaching intelligent design in public schools
10.29.2006 10:16am
Eugene Volokh wrote:
Can you take photos? (In CA it is illegal to photograph, videotape or otherwise record a voter entering or leaving a polling place). And so on.
I believe the law you refer to is California Elections Code Section 18541. Note that it is a specific intent crime, and then only within 100 feet of a polling place:

18541. (a) No person shall, with the intent of dissuading another person from voting, within 100 feet of a polling place, do any of the following:

(1) Solicit a vote or speak to a voter on the subject of marking his or her ballot.

(2) Place a sign relating to voters' qualifications or speak to a voter on the subject of his or her qualifications except as provided in Section 14240.

(3) Photograph, videotape, or otherwise record a voter entering or exiting a polling place.

(b) Any violation of this section is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than 12 months, or in the state prison.

Any person who conspires to violate this section is guilty of a felony.

(c) For purposes of this section, 100 feet means a distance of 100 feet from the room or rooms in which voters are signing the roster and casting ballots.
10.29.2006 12:07pm
Is it legal to pay for the privilege of examining an absentee ballot and watching it being signed, sealed, and mailed?

I.e., is it legal to buy votes?
10.30.2006 2:23pm