To further protect the integrity of the ballot, all local voters will be asked to turn off or put away their cell phones when entering the polling place in all future elections.
The DeKalb County Election Commission, meeting in regular session Monday, adopted policies relating to activities that are prohibited inside the polling place during early voting and on election day.
“Security and privacy of the voter and the security and privacy of their votes are the overriding concerns of the Election Commission,” said Chairman Walteen Parker. “We felt it was time to update our policies, particularly in light of today’s technology.”
One policy adopted by the commission states that “upon entering the polling place, all voters are to turn off their mobile phones and/or place them securely in a belt clip, pocket or purse. Voters are strictly prohibited from talking or texting on their mobile phone while inside the voting location.”
“Not only is it a distraction, but talking or texting on a phone inside the voting location could be considered voter assistance,” said Dennis Stanley, Administrator of Elections. “There are laws relating to voter assistance and forms to be completed and signed by all parties involved. Someone on the other end of a telephone conversation obviously would not be here to sign the form.”
In addition, Stanley said using a cell phone could be in violation of the state’s “Campaign Free Zone” law.
“Voters using cell phones inside the polling place only raises unnecessary questions,” Stanley continued. “Who is the voter talking to? Are they talking to their spouse about what to pick up at the store on the way home or to a candidate about who to vote for? The later would be a violation of the Campaign Free Zone. ”
Another policy adopted by the Commission relates to actions inside the actual voting booth. The policy states it is “strictly prohibited to photograph, video or by any other method, record a voter’s actual ballot whether on a voting machine or a paper ballot.”
“These two measures go hand-in-hand and are designed to eliminate the possibility of a voter voting, taking a picture of their marked ballot, casting the ballot, then publishing the picture of their marked ballot to the public,” Stanley said.
“The Election Commission has a compelling interest in protecting voters from confusion and undue influence,” Parker added. “We feel like these measures address those issues and we think the public will agree.”