Barcodes are a ubiquitous feature of modern life. They appear on everything from retail products and advertisements to patient forms at the doctor’s office. But perhaps one place a person might not expect to find a barcode is on an election ballot—especially when that barcode can be used to link an individual ballot with the voter who cast it. The notion seems at odds with our venerated tradition of the “secret” ballot. Indeed, that is what the plaintiffs argued in Citizen Center v. Gessler, a recent case before the United States District Court in Colorado.
On February 13, Citizen Center, a nonpartisan group of Colorado voters, filed a complaint challenging the constitutionality of election policies and procedures in six Colorado counties. Specifically, Citizen Center alleged that the defendant counties’ election ballots each contain a unique identifying mark that allows a voted ballot to be traced to its specific voter. Citizen Center further alleged that use of these ballots unconstitutionally infringes upon citizens’ fundamental right to vote, as well as their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Continue reading