PSA: Don’t take photos of your secret ballot and post it to social media

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

While it is not per se unlawful to take a photo of your completed ballot in Arizona and post it to social media, this may be subject to legal interpretation under A.R.S. §16-1018. Additional unlawful acts by persons
with respect to voting; classification:

A person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor:

: :

4. Shows the voter's ballot or the machine on which the voter has voted to any
person after it is prepared for voting in such a manner as to reveal the contents, except
to an authorized person lawfully assisting the voter.

5. Knowingly solicits a voter to show the voter's ballot, or receives from a voter
a ballot prepared for voting, unless the person is an election official or unless
otherwise authorized by law.

: :

8. Except for a completed ballot transmitted by an elector by fax or other
electronic format pursuant to section 16-543, knowingly places a mark on the voter's
ballot by which it can be identified as the one voted by the voter.

Pro Publica has posted this warning. Why It May Be Illegal to Instagram Your Ballot:

Proud
voters are already posting photos
of their ballots

on Instagram—sometimes with the names of their
chosen candidates filled in. But before you snap a shot of your vote, you might
want to check your state laws.
As the Citizen Media
Law Project points
out
as
part of their guide to documenting the 2012 election, showing your marked
ballot to other people is actually illegal
in many states.
 

Laws
against displaying your ballot are motivated by concerns about vote buying,
since voters being bribed might need to be prove they voted a certain way. 

While
laws vary from state to state, the penalties for showing your ballot can be
stiff.

* * *

“Virtually all of these laws are older
laws that predate the current technology,” said Jeffrey Hermes, a First
Amendment expert who wrote the Citizen Media Law Project’s guide to ballot
disclosure rules
.

But,
he warned in his guide, “It is easy to imagine situations in which the
thoughtless posting of a marked ballot on Facebook could result in negative
consequences.”

Rick
Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California,
Irvine, said that taking a picture of your marked ballot is “bad news.”

“Hard
as it is to believe, before the secret ballot there was a lot more vote buying
and we don't want more of that now,” he wrote in an email.

* * *

Allowing
voters to publicly display their ballots might also undermine the culture of
the secret ballot, Hermes said. Another factor is the fear that voters might be
intimated or swayed by seeing other people’s ballots. 

* * *

At
least one state has recently changed its stance on the issue, Hermes said.
Maine repealed its ban on voters
showing their own ballots in 2011.

It's better to be safe than sorry — just don't do it.

UPDATE: Think Progress reports:

"Fox News host Sean Hannity apparently tweeted pictures of his ballot today. This may be a misdemeanor under New York State elections law which prohibits voters from showing a ballot “after it is prepared for voting, to any person so as to reveal the contents.”

UPDATE: The Washington Post reports Social media killing the secret ballot:

One of every five registered voters will share how they voted vote
online, according to a new report by the Pew Internet & American
Life Project. The report, titled “Social Media and Voting,”
also found that nearly a third of registered voters have been
encouraged to vote one way or the other by contacts on Facebook or
Twitter — a number that rises among voters under 30.

If that sounds like a lot of tweets and Facebook posts, you’re right.

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