It’s a distinctly 21st-century spin on an age-old practice: Excited voters mark up their ballot on Election Day — then pull out a smartphone to take a picture of their exercise in democracy and post it to social media. These so-called “ballot selfies” are also at the nexus of a legal debate as some states try to curtail the practice while a federal judge defends it. “It’s a fascinating debate,” said Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, the state’s election supervisor. “You really better have a good reason before you clamp down on political speech.”
Under Minnesota law, ballot selfies are legal — though showing anyone a ballot to someone else in the polling place is not. If a Minnesota voter shows his or her ballot to someone else in the polling place, the ballot is supposed to be invalidated. The voter can receive a new ballot unless the ballot display is judged to be “clearly intentional.”
Other states have broader laws, such as South Dakota’s, which forbids showing a marked ballot to anyone in the polling place or elsewhere. And New Hampshire recently passed a law explicitly singling out ballot selfies as illegal. But a federal judge struck down that New Hampshire law as an infringement on free speech.