Last week, Kanye West tweeted a picture of his ballot with the write-in candidate bubble scribbled in with black ink. On the line next to it, he wrote “Kanye Omari West” and “Let’s Goooooo!!!!!!” While this stimulates many different reactions from Twitter users, the main concern for many was the legality — is it even legal to post a picture of your marked ballot?
The answer for West from his Wyoming mega-mansion is yes. The answer for you, though, may not be the same.
Around the St. Louis area, taking a picture of your ballot is discouraged, or could even be illegal depending on your county. What may begin as an innocent selfie in your polling booth could turn into a costly mistake.
In the majority of states, it’s either legal or legally unclear if you can take a picture with your ballot. In the minority of states is Missouri and Illinois, which has laws that state it’s illegal to take a picture of your ballot with the intent of showing others where your vote lies.
In many Missouri counties, taking a photo with a marked ballot could mean a fine up to $2,500 or jail time of one year. In Illinois, showing anyone your marked ballot is a felony resulting in one to three years of jail time. Any photos inside a voting booth in Illinois are similarly considered illegal. Both states enacted these laws in order to avoid voter coercion and vote-buying.
Many post their ballot selfies to convince or remind their followers to vote. Studies show that this may actually be a convincing argument.
In a study by Nature
, posting a picture of your ballot on Facebook might actually inspire your friends to vote. Close Facebook friends may feel social pressure after seeing your ballot photo, inspiring them to head to the polls as well.
Still, the risk is not worth it. Save yourself some possible fines or jail time and take a selfie with your “I Voted” sticker instead.
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