Don't Even Think About Snapping a 'Ballot Selfie' in Missouri

by

PHOTO COURTESY OF FLICKR/TAL ATLAS
You can Instagram your lunch on Instagram and Facebook Live your baby's birth, but you'd better not put your vote on social media.

So-called "ballot selfies" are the inevitable next step in a culture that insists on documenting every breath we take and calling any photo, not just ones we've taken of ourselves, a "selfie." With early voting underway, they're already everywhere on our social media feeds.

But in Missouri, they are in fact illegal. 

Stephanie Fleming, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Secretary of State, confirms that state law does seem to bar photographs of completed ballots. She pointed us to a statute that bars a voter from "allowing his ballot to be seen by any person with the intent of letting it be known how he is about to vote or has voted." 

Says Fleming, "To be safe, voters should check with their local election authority before snapping a picture of their ballot to make sure they’re not violating Missouri election law." After all, violating that statute could result in up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

Around the country, these laws are under attack. California recently repealed its ballot photo ban, the AP reports. And the ACLU is working to challenge the law in New Hampshire, saying it wrongly restricts a voter's First Amendment rights. In this era of oversharing, we the people wouldn't have it any other way.

But for now, the law is still on the books. And as far as the ACLU coming to your rescue if you decide to make yourself a test case on November 8, let's face it. This is Missouri, not New Hampshire. They've got bigger battles to fight.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

comment