Jackson Walker lawyers around Texas will be assisting the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in advising journalists on issues they may face at polling places on November 6, 2018. Journalists could face an array of legal issues while covering this year’s midterm elections, including the right of journalists to conduct exit polls outside of polling places and the right to news gather in or near polling places.
In addition, the issue of “ballot selfies”—a photo of oneself also depicting a completed ballot in an election—has recently become a hot topic. Journalists may utilize these selfies to demonstrate current political trends or to inform the public of potential issues with the election process. Each of these issues implicate important First Amendment rights, which courts across the country have struggled to address.
In Texas, a person may not use a cell phone, camera, or other recording device within 100 feet of polling places, so ballot selfies are not permitted. Tex. Elec. Advisory No. 2018-11 (2018). However, the Texas Secretary of State’s office has adopted a policy of permitting “non-disruptive” exit polling within this 100-foot protected area, so long as it does not constitute loitering and is not disruptive. Id.
Jackson Walker maintains a close relationship with the Washington, D.C.-based Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Currently, Jackson Walker lawyers Chip Babcock, Joshua Romero, and Amanda Crouch are assisting the Committee in obtaining alleged “confidential” trial evidence used in obtaining the largest jury verdict in the history of Bexar County, Texas.
For more information regarding elections coverage, view the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press’ Election Legal Guide.
Austin partner Joshua A. Romero is a trial lawyer who has represented both plaintiffs and defendants in state and federal courts across the country in complex commercial litigation and First Amendment litigation. Josh has successfully tried cases ranging from multimillion-dollar corporate disputes and consumer fraud cases to construction cases. In 2015, he assisted his clients in obtaining the largest settlement in Texas and the fourth largest settlement in the United States, as featured in the National Law Journal.