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VERIFY: Which states allow voters to share photos of their ballots online?

Some states explicitly allow posting photos of ballots, some allow them but don't have legislation on it, and others specifically ban them.

For the last decade, state legislatures and court systems have been weighing the question of whether voters should be able to take photos of their ballots and post them online. 

To determine where and how people can share ballot photos, the VERIFY team looked into the history of this question and what the law says about taking and posting your “ballot selfie.”

THE QUESTION

Is it legal to post a photo of my ballot on social media to show how I voted?

THE ANSWER

In some states, yes. In others, no. We’ve compiled a list of states that definitely allow ballot selfies using data from the National Conference of State Legislatures and Ballotpedia.org.

Keep in mind, while this list shows states that allow ballot selfies you should always follow the instructions and guidance of official poll workers at your local voting location.

States that have passed legislation permitting ballot selfies:
California - AB1494
Colorado - HB 1014
Hawaii - HB 27
Nebraska - LB 874
Oklahoma - HB 1259
Oregon - SB 1515
Utah - HB 72 

States that allow ballot selfies but don’t have specific legislation:

Arkansas

Connecticut

Idaho

Indiana

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Michigan

Minnesota

Montana

New Hampshire

North Dakota

Rhode Island

Vermont

Virginia

Washington

Washington, D.C.

Wyoming

States that are not listed above have unclear guidelines about ballot selfies or have legislation against taking them. To see more about your specific state, check the NCSL or Ballotpedia database.

WHAT WE FOUND 

The history of this clash is one of the digital age versus the long-held concept of the secret ballot, the National Conference of State Legislatures says. 

The theory behind the secret vote is to prevent bribery and coercion, which is why that method prevailed over the public voice vote in the nation’s earlier days, the NCSL says. Opponents of voting booth selfies fear a photo of a marked ballot could serve as proof for a payoff or to appease an oppressor.

Credit: AP
People vote at voting booths in the Georgia's primary election at Park Tavern on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

To keep ballots secret, New Hampshire outlawed selfies with marked ballots in 2014, but the law was struck down in 2016 by the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals as a violation of free speech. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case in 2017.

While some states have loosened their laws, others have kept stricter measures. Among them, Texas does not allow wireless communication and recording devices within 100 feet of a polling station.

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Although Iowa and Illinois forbid voting booth selfies, some polling sites in those states offer Election Day backdrops to encourage voters to take snapshots outside the booth, the NCSL says.

For selfie-takers who want something beyond showing off an “I Voted” sticker, other ideas include snapping a selfie with your unmarked ballot or posing next to a “Vote Here” sign -- but please follow the law.  

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