Let Freedom Ring?

Taft Voting, by Bain News Service, publisher, 1912, Library of Congress, LC-B2- 2442-16

It’s against the law to photograph certain things, at certain times, in certain places. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently reported that a photograph of an election ballot in a mayoral race—showing the name of local rookie hockey player T.J. Oshie written in by a fan—posted on fan website is evidence of a class-four election offense in Missouri. The perpetrator, if found, could be sentenced to up to a year’s jail time and fined up to $2,500 because in Missouri, as in a number of other states, photographing and displaying a vote is illegal.

Clinton Inauguration, by Smithsonian Photographer, 1993, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Smithsoni

County election official Rich A. Chrismer said, "You can’t violate something as sacred as the ballot." The photo was posted anonymously and so no legal action has been taken, at least so far. But it does make you wonder what else it’s illegal to photograph, and why?

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