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Reporters covering polls

Maryland

Reporters at the Polls

1 page print and take flyer

The short version:  Maryland State Board of Election regulations explicitly allow “representatives of print or electronic media” in polling places (so long as they are not disruptive) and allow them to record video in polling places, so long as they are not recording actual ballots or screens (because there is a law against reproducing/distributing ballots).

Print and take this sheet with you to the polls. 

Ease your path:  Contact the State Administrator or the election director in advance to tell them which polling locations they’ll be covering (per 33.07.04.01(B) below), the official will notify the polling staff in advance, and hopefully they will be more prepared to accommodate the press.

 Problems?  Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has set up a 24/7 hotline staffed by volunteer media law attorneys: 800-336-4243 (or send an email to hotline@rcfp.org).

Maryland Regulations:

33.07.04.01. Media.

A. Presence Allowed. Representatives of print or electronic media are permitted in a polling place as long as their activities do not:

(1) Cause disruption;

(2) Infringe on voter privacy;

(3) Inhibit election judges from performing their duties; or

(4) Otherwise interfere with the orderly conduct of the election.

B. Notice Requested.

(1) Media organizations are requested to provide the State Administrator or the election director with a list of those polling places that they intend to cover, so that the election judges can be informed.

(2) Failure to provide this information, however, does not in any way diminish or otherwise affect the rights granted by this regulation.

 

33.07.04.02. Cell Phones, Pagers, Cameras, etc.

A. In General. Except as specified in §B of this regulation, electronic communication devices may not be used in a polling place. Prohibited devices include:

(1) Cameras;

(2) Cellular telephones;

(3) Pagers; or

(4) Computer equipment.

B. Exceptions. This regulation does not apply to:

(1) Cameras used by media representatives as long as the media representatives are recording polling place operations and not a screen or ballot; or

(2) Cellular telephones, pagers, or computer equipment used by election officials or law enforcement officers, when acting in their official capacities.

Delaware

Reporters at the Polls

1 page print & take flyer

The short version:  Delaware law provides a list of people who are allowed in a voting room, and media are not on that list (see below). However, the law specifically provides that “media and persons conducting exit polls” are allowed within 50 feet outside of the building used by voters (normally, no one else – aside from voters and staff – is allowed within that 50 feet). Note: The law says that media within that 50-foot zone may speak only with voters after they vote, not before.

There is a law that requires election officers to set up the room in such a way that “no mirror or camera is in a position that would permit anyone to view the ballot” (15 Del. Code § 7557). So we can presume that photography or video of a ballot is prohibited. There is also a policy (but not a law) banning all cell phone use inside the voting room.

Ease your path:  Contact the State Department of Elections in advance to see if they can be given access, as any people accompanied by members and employees of the State Department of Elections and State Election Commissioner are allowed in the voting room, per the statute below. But the law doesn’t require the elections officials to agree.

Problems?  Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has set up a 24/7 hotline staffed by volunteer media law attorneys: 800-336-4243 (or send an email to hotline@rcfp.org).

Delaware Regulations:

15 Del. Code § 4933. Persons permitted in the voting room

(a) The following persons shall be admitted to the voting room:

(1) Members and employees of the Department identified by a badge or written authorization;

(2) The State Election Commissioner and the Commissioner's employees identified by a badge or written authorization;

(3) Persons voting and waiting to vote, or a child lawfully accompanying such person pursuant to § 4937(e) of this title, or a person providing voter assistance pursuant to § 4943 of this title;

(4) One challenger from a political party with a candidate on the ballot as provided in § 4934 of this title;

(5) Any people accompanied by persons listed in paragraphs (a)(1) and (2) of this section above;

(6) Persons with business in the building that is not connected to the election. For example: an athletic team picking up or dropping off equipment at their school. Such persons shall remain outside of the voting room except to pass through or by the voting room in the conduct of their business;

(7) A person or persons deemed necessary to the conduct of the election by majority vote of the inspector and judges.

(b) No other person except as noted below shall be permitted within 50 feet of any entrance to the building used by voters.

(c) Media and persons conducting exit polls shall be permitted within the 50-foot exclusion zone, but may not talk to persons who have not voted while in the 50-foot exclusion zone.

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