It is voting season and most of America has caught election fever. In many states, Illinois included, you can cast an early ballot. And, as with most things these days, early voting has taken social media by storm. This has however caused an unexpected issue. It turns out in some states snapping a selfie while voting or while standing with your ballot is illegal. Who knew?
In fact, in Illinois it is actually a felony to knowingly mark your ballot in a way so that another person can see it. Thus, marking your ballot, and then posting it on social media, could arguably be a felony in the state of Illinois. A felony that carries with it a potential criminal sentence of one to three years.
What about our friends across the river in Missouri? Turns out their “voter selfie” laws are a little less clear. Missouri law prohibits voters from allowing others to see their ballots if the intent is to show how they voted. A spokeswoman for the Missouri Secretary of State has released a statement claiming that ballot selfies are a “gray area” and that one should check with his or her local election authorities before taking a selfie.
What could the reasoning be for banning ballot selfies? Those in favor argue that allowing people to share pictures of ballots could facilitate schemes to buy or coerce votes.
In fact, a quick Google search on the issue reveals that many states, including Florida, New York, Wisconsin, and Tennessee have laws that could be read as making ballot selfies illegal. This issue came to the attention of the news earlier this week when Justin Timberlake posted a selfie of himself voting in his home state of Tennessee.
Now the question remains, would anyone actually prosecute someone for taking a ballot selfie? Hard to say, though probably unlikely. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been actively challenging these laws throughout the United States over the past few years and has successfully had them struck down in New Hampshire and Indiana.
At Hipskind & McAninch, we strongly encourage you to go out and vote. Make sure your voice is heard in this coming election. That being said, maybe wait until after you are finished voting to take your selfie, just to be safe.
If you, or someone you care about has a legal question, contact one of the experienced attorneys at Hipskind & McAninch for a FREE CASE CONSULTATION at 618.641.9189 | 314.312.2930 | firstname.lastname@example.org