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Sorry, Siri Cannot Vote with You Today

August 7, 2014

siri_screen

She will wake you up from a snooze in time for your next meeting without ratting you out. She will remind you that tomorrow’s your sister’s birthday. She will locate the nearest Starbucks when you’re roaming unfamiliar turf.

But some things even Siri can’t do. When you are voting today, Siri won’t be able to bring up Back in no phone colorRiver City’s Voting Smart guide to remind you of your choices among the 81 judicial candidates appearing on your ballot. Sorry, but Siri’s been banned, baby. Cortana, too.  Because way back in 2006, the Shelby County Election Commission realized that camera phones could compromise the secrecy of a voter’s ballot. Cell phones have been off limits while voting ever since.

We contacted Memphis attorney John Ryder, who is Republican National Committee General Counsel and a “pretty big deal on the national scene” to explain.

“The reasoning is that if you can take a picture of your ballot, you can take a picture of someone else’s ballot, and that would violate their right to a secret ballot. I think we all agree, that secrecy of the ballot is an important protection of the rights of individuals to be able to vote without fear of retribution.”

You may take a sample ballot or written notes, however. According to attorney Cara Harr, who is Tennessee’s specialist on HAVA, the Help American Vote Act of 2003:

“Tennessee Code Annotated § 2-12-116 allows each county election commission tn code annotatatedto promulgate policies regarding the voting process.  It is my understanding that the Shelby County Election Commission does have a policy prohibiting cell phones in polling locations    . . .   Voters are allowed to bring a sample ballot with them inside the polling location to be used by that voter and sample ballots should also be available at every polling location for the voter.”

So be smart and be prepared before you go to the polls today. You can’t use your cell phone, but you can print out a blank sample ballot here and mark your choices before you go.

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