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 and 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 but 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 a ballot to someone else in the polling place is not. If a Minnesota voter shows their 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 not. 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.
Both Simon and Rep. Tim Sanders, a Blaine Republican who chairs the House elections committee, say the judge made the right call.
“As long as that photo only captures the individual and their ballot and… nobody else’s ballot, in my opinion they can do that if they want,” said Sanders — though he doesn’t think ballot selfies are particularly wise.