SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — You fill out your ballot and you want to show off having completed your civil duty, but are you allowed to do that by taking a picture of yourself and your ballot and posting it on social media?
In the United States, there are more states that allow so-called ‘ballot selfies’ than there are states that outlaw them.
The practice gained traction in the last two decades, as smartphones became more widespread and people shared more of their personal lives online, including their voting preferences.
According to Ballotpedia, an organization that documents elections, politics and policy in the country, as of 2020 25 states allow ballot selfies while 15 states do not. The other ten states do not have clear laws on the matter.
Among the states that do allow them is California, with former Governor Jerry Brown signing a law in 2016 that states “a voter may voluntarily disclose how he or she voted if that voluntary act does not violate any other law.”
The law, AB 1494, went into effect in 2017.
Why would ballot selfies be illegal?
Some states that prohibit photos of filled-out ballots do so for a number of reasons, including protecting against electoral fraud and avoiding delays at the polls.
Other states have laws that were created to protect against bosses observing an employee’s union ballot, and the laws may overlap onto electoral ballots.
Some states, such as Colorado, do allow ballot selfies, just not at a polling place, according to a Colorado Department of State spokesperson that spoke with The New York Times.
With the expansion of mail-in ballots during the pandemic, millions of people submit their votes at home, where taking a selfie doesn’t necessarily block anyone else from submitting their own vote.
In California, it used to be that you could not reveal the contents of a ballot in an attempt to limit interference in voting.
Since 2018, Californians could legally take a photo of their ballot and publish it anywhere they like, so long as the act does not violate any other law, such as selling a vote.