Are Ballot Selfies Really Illegal?
You may have heard that taking a picture of yourself with your ballot when you vote and posting it on social media is against the law. Well, here in Florida, it may surprise you to learn that yes, it is.
There is no federal law regarding ballot selfies in the US, so creating laws around the matter of posting pictures of your voting ballot on social media has been left up to individual states. Some states specifically prohibit ballot selfies, imposing fines or jail terms for violations, while other states have no prohibition.
Florida, along with Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, is one of the jurisdictions that made it crime to photograph marked ballots. However, in all of these states except Illinois, the offense is merely a misdemeanor that’s punishable by a fine. Just be thankful you don’t live in Illinois, where taking a ballot selfie is a felony – punishable by one to three years in prison!
The American Civil Liberties Union and others have questioned the constitutionality of prohibiting ballot selfies, arguing that they violate the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee. Others say that statutes making completed ballot photos illegal is necessary to prevent vote buying and the potential for coercion from employers, union bosses and others to vote a certain way. Supporters of ballot selfies, however, believe that posting and sharing pictures of people voting is positive for democracy and may even increase voter turnout. And ever since they started handing out those “I Voted” stickers, there is no shortage of peer pressure to be in the Cool Kids Club of democracy on Voting Day.
Lastly, it’s important to point out that no one has ever actually been charged with a crime for posting a ballot selfie. Even in famous cases like Justin Timberlake’s in Tennessee, although the state was aware he broke the law when he posted a ballot selfie, they decided not to pursue charges. Our recommendation? Be on the safe side: stick with a pic of the sticker.