WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia struck down a provision of the state’s new voter suppression law, Senate Bill 202, that prohibits photographing or recording completed ballots during the voting process. The underlying case, brought by the Coalition for Good Governance and Georgia voters, challenges multiple parts of S.B. 202 for violating the First and 14th Amendments. The court upheld other challenged provisions of S.B. 202, keeping in place the state’s newly-limited absentee ballot application period and multiple restrictions on election observers. A prohibition on photographing an electronic ballot marker while a voter is casting their ballot is also still in place.
The court held that the photography restriction was not “narrowly tailored” to serve any state interest and therefore plaintiffs had demonstrated a likely violation of the First Amendment. Coalition for Good Governance’s executive director said that the “court’s striking of the photography ban was an important first step in demonstrating that SB 202 is an overreach by lawmakers who prefer ballots to be counted behind closed doors, blocking the important oversight of the press and public.” This is the first part of S.B. 202 to be invalidated by a court. While Georgia Republicans touted this decision as a win since S.B. 202 remains largely intact, the law is still being challenged in seven other pending cases, many of which contain different claims than this case.