“Later that day, Karan visited a second polling station. He claimed that when he attempted to document the closing of the polling place, police were called and claimed he was trespassing, and that he avoided arrest by leaving the premises.” The real reason the police were called, according to the registrar, was that Karan was bothering poll workers with constitutional questions and making it difficult for them to do their work.
This version of events suggests that the registrar was backing away from the policy to prevent photography in polling stations. Nevertheless, the courts, both superior and appellate, found the policy reasonable. They argued that the presence of someone taking pictures in the polling place could intimidate voters. But Karan insists that his only intention in using cameras in polling places is to document the security of the ballots. He understands, he says, that pointing a camera at people even before they enter to vote might very well scare them away. But he believes that taking pictures of poll workers doing their jobs and of their equipment is easily accomplished without intimidating voters.
The debate between Karan and the courts centered as well on whether polling stations are public places. The courts relied on a position established by the U.S. Supreme Court that the speech of election campaigners can be restricted within 100 feet of polling stations. That establishes polling stations as nonpublic places. Thus, reasoned the appeals court, photography can be restricted within them too. Karan, however, argues that polling places are public places. Within them one finds the nonpublic voting booths in which voters are entitled to cast their ballots privately. Outside the booths, free speech reigns, including the use of cameras, as long as the expression does not amount to political campaigning.
On the issues of sealing ballots and reconciling ballot and voter counts, the courts found that the registrar of voters already has in place procedures, training, and review that are adequate.
But Karan is disappointed that the courts seem “more interested in stability than voting transparency.” He quotes a statement attributed to Joseph Stalin: “It is enough that the people know there was an election.”