Is Taking a "Ballot Selfie" Illegal?

In some states, taking a ballot selfie is a misdemeanor, but in others, it isn't necessarily illegal -- in fact, sharing the picture is promoted.

by Cimaron Neugebauer, Standard-Examiner (TNS) / November 5, 2014

You are so proud you voted and did your civic duty and now you want everyone to know, so you snap a picture of yourself with your beloved ballot and share it on social media.

Before I vote. Lemme take a selfie. #ballotselfie pic.twitter.com/VXw0TxYSun

— AydeeTheDutchman (@AydeeMaybrew) May 5, 2014

Wait, did you just commit a class C misdemeanor? In some states, including our neighboring state of Wyoming, you have committed a crime. However, in Utah taking a ballot selfie is not necessarily illegal, according to state Deputy Director of Elections Justin Lee.

“There is nothing explicit in state law saying you can’t take a selfie,” Lee told the Standard-Examiner Tuesday.

In fact, sharing the selfie is actually promoted.

Send your #IVotedSelfie to @ElectionsUtah and we'll RT! #ivoted #utpol

— Vote Utah (@ElectionsUtah) November 4, 2014

Utah law states it is illegal to make your ballot “seen by any other person with an intent to reveal how he is about to vote,”

It doesn't mention she though — so ladies, this looks like a loophole in the archaic law for you until they include a gender-neutral pronoun.

The "I voted" selfie was alive and well in Utah including state legislators.

I love voting on the actual election day and was thrilled to see so many people there! #goAmerica. pic.twitter.com/cLlcSe1jzu

— Becky Edwards (@utahbecky) November 4, 2014

This woman in New Hampshire, where it is illegal, didn't seem to mind posting her picture. The offender can face up to a $1,000 fine.

Breakin' the law, breakin' the law! #ballotselfie pic.twitter.com/YZAiq5v53K

— Sandy Jones (@SovereignSandy) November 4, 2014

A New Hampshire representative, voting in a primary election, didn't seem to mind about the law either.

#COOS7 vote in primary 2014#nhpolitics pic.twitter.com/slFengCVqr

— Leon H Rideout (@RepRideout) September 10, 2014

But in all seriousness, drafting new legislation to update the current Utah law language has been discussed to make the law more clearly defined, Lee said.

The American Civil Liberties Union thinks states should allow #ballotselfie to still be a thing and are suing for it.

ACLU sues to let you post photos of your voting ballot http://t.co/fmL0WyIxXQ #ballotselfie pic.twitter.com/B7lgCuNhCU

— Yahoo Tech (@YahooTech) November 4, 2014

The strict interpretation of the law could make sharing who you voted for by text, video or picture illegal based on the statute, Lee said, but added that he hasn't heard of anyone being cited for it. He understands most people are just sharing that they voted, but other times it can be more a bribery-for-votes concern.

The law has “good policy reasons against” sharing how you voted, Lee said.

It has less to do with gloating about your civic duty and more about influencing someone how to vote.

“We don’t want people being bribed for votes,” Lee said.

It is against the law if someone even “attempts to induce any voter” inside the voting booth or marking a ballot to show how they marked their ballot.

While we are on the law, it is also against the law to falsely state “that he is unable to mark his ballot.”

That seems like a weird part of the law, and I don’t know who would do it, but just make sure you don’t do it.

©2014 the Standard-Examiner (Ogden, Utah)

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