Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Ok so I was shooting election photos for the Detroit News of University of Michigan students voting and after about 30 minutes was asked, well told, to leave by an attorney from the city of Ann Arbor. You see the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) has banned cameras at polling places. SEE STORY HERE. Except for news media photographers.
This is from the Secretary of State web site,
"Land pointed out that the use of video cameras, still cameras and other recording devices are prohibited in the polls when they are open for voting. This includes still cameras and other recording features built into many cell phones. The ban applies to all voters, challengers, poll watchers and election workers. Exceptions are made for credentialed members of the news media though certain restrictions remain." GO HERE TO SEE IT.
So when I arrived the election workers were hesitant to let me take photos at all. I told them I was working for the Detroit News and even showed them the printout I made from the SOS website stating media could take photos. They told me to stay in the "public" area which was no problem.
So I was shooting and not getting much. I followed a couple voters out to get their names retuning each time to try for better picture. Then this city attorney told me I had been there long enough and had to leave.
Well I am not sure he had the authority to do this so I told him I was shooting for the News and trying to get a more interesting photo from my limited shooting location. Also that I was not near voters and not talking to them except a couple voters when they left the area. He then handed me his phone with his boss on the other end and she tells me I can come in to the polling area no problem, shoot one photo and leave. Ya right. We talked over each other and I told her she was wrong and there was nothing stating this. She said I had to leave anyway and ended the call. Neither one of us would be able to convince the other we were right.
There are also questions about if this ban is even legal and if the SOS has the authority to impose such a ban on anyone. It is not a law or state statue as I understand it. I could be wrong. But the media still has the right to gather info and photos. I really wanted to push and not leave but I choose not to cause a scene or have the police show up even though I really didn't have any real good images. I was happy with myself that I argued my case in a respectful manor because when I was younger I would have just been mad and defiant. You really can't argue your case on the spot and definitely not against two attorneys. I think I might file a complaint with the city and the SOS just so it’s on file with them. Now off to another polling location. We'll see how this goes.


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