NULL Are Ballot Selfies Legal? – Legal News Organization
Are Ballot Selfies Legal?

Are Ballot Selfies Legal?

When we have cast our votes, we often post photos on social media of us wearing the “I Have voted” sticker on our cheeks, shirt or even on our foreheads.

It’s fine to proclaim your civic virtues with this sort of photo. If you’re considering taking a selfie and submitting it to an election ballot, reconsider.

Consider the situation of an Wisconsin man named Paul Buzzell, who faces the possibility of a felony which carries a maximum prison term of 3 1/2 years after posting a school board election ballot to social media. Buzzell is on the Mequon-Thiensville Schools Board and has posted his vote on his page on Facebook in the days following the vote on March 27.

Wisconsin law states that the sharing of a ballot marked by anybody is against the law. In the Badger State have reportedly posted pictures of ballots that were completed over time without any consequences However, Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol decided to charge Buzzell regardless. Gerol states that he views the case against Buzzell to be a “test instance” that may lead to an appeals court decision to decide if the state’s law banning selfies of ballots violates constitutional rights under the First Amendment. An initial hearing has been set for December. 15.

State Laws are Different

What happens to the other candidates? Could the same fate befall anyone who uploads a selfie from the ballot? As with many other issues in American life, it all depends on the location you live in.

Although Wisconsin prohibits selfies on ballots however, several states permit the practice, although some limitations may be in place. The supporters of this practice claim they are beneficial for democracy since it’s free speech and increases participation of voters. The opposition says it could cause the purchase and sale of ballots. A person, for instance, that is paid to cast a choose a specific way to vote can be able to prove their claim with photos of their ballot.

Ballot selfies are images of the ballot that have been cast which are posted via social media. They could be the ballot by itself or with voters’ (usually smiling) face.

Elections within the Digital Age

It wasn’t that long ago it was true that the thought of taking a picture of yourself or your ballot in public for the world to see was a joke. Everybody accepted that elections were not public. In the past two decades, the proliferation of cameras in smartphones have created a new world in which users share their personal information via social media and photos of ballots have gained popularity.

The year 2014 was the one when New Hampshire was one of the states that was among the first to react to the latest technology and passed an ordinance to prohibit the use of these devices. Then, two years later a federal appeals court found that the law violated the Constitution and interfered with free speech rights and opened the door for numerous states to accept the use of these devices. The amount of selfies taken during the ballot was then soaring in the general election of 2020 as widespread voting at the home using absentee voting allowed it to be much more simple to conduct.

State-by-state it is different. Ballotpedia is an independent and non-profit online encyclopedia which supervises elections, states that around half of states accept this. A few states allow for some restrictions, but. For instance, in California For instance the secretary of state’s office states that election officials as well as poll employees must “exercise in their own discretion” in determining if the selfies cause disruptions.

Certain states allow the voting selfies in certain states. Iowa is one example. Iowa bans cameras inside polling stations but states that voters who choose to vote absent-mindedly are able to do so. This is also the case in Maryland as well as Texas.

Ballotpedia reports that 14 states, other than Wisconsin ban selfies on ballots:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota

If you’re hoping to demonstrate your civic zeal after having voted however, we recommend the “I Have voted” sticker. If you think it is necessary to distribute your ballot make sure you check with your state’s electoral office or secretary of the state. It is not a good idea to risk being charged or even detained.

There is no need to resolve this on your own – Seek the help of a lawyer

A consultation with a lawyer could aid you in understanding your options and help you defend your rights. Browse our lawyer directory to locate a lawyer close to your home who will be able to assist.