Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cameras at the precinct (Nov. 7, 2008)

Westmoreland County banned taking pictures of, or at, polling places. I do not recall the reason why. I never received any explicit instruction either banning or allowing the same at my Allegheny County precinct, but someone else did say our county banned it, too, so I erred on the side of caution and tried to enforce the no-photos rule.

Note I said tried.

Were it mine to decide, I would have encouraged it. I would have liked to have someone videotape any problems operating the machines, such as the vote flipping that some of West Virginia's iVotronic® machines encountered. I would like to have some good photos of the lines, beyond the couple that the Pitt News people got away with (before I chased them off).

Were it mine to decide, I would require that any photographers, whether with cell phone or $20,000 cameras, simply get the verbal permission of the Judge of Election, and then adhere to whatever limits the JoE may invoke. Maybe it should be written permission. In fact, I rather like the idea that simple video-ing by one person of that same person's voting experience should always be allowed.

I think I understand some of the reasoning against precinct photography. I understand that there is a chance of nastiness against people who vote, as happens in some countries -- though I have no reports handy of such happening here in the USA. Hate knows no boundaries, and we have plenty of it here, for whatever reason, against whomever. Yeah, we have to prevent that.

However, I think that there is more to be gained than lost from precinct photography.

I also think that the County Board of Election could have done a better job of notifying Judges of Election as to what could be done, and cogently explaining why.

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