Although the Voting Selfie is a seemingly an innocuous practice, a very interesting and modern discussion on election law has been ignited by this issue. The legality of voting selfies touches on issues of privacy, free speech, voter intimidation, and more. In some states you can still technically face punishment for taking a vote selfie, although prosecutions are rare.
Some argue that the real threat of voting selfies is to the secret ballot: a fundamental tenet of democracy. In theory, if someone wanted to strongarm others into voting for a certain candidate, they could demand photos as proof from their victims. There was an interesting new post at Lansing State Journal by Associated Press showing where the country is headed on this issue:
Michigan voters are free to take a picture of their ballot before they leave a voting booth. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has settled a 2016 lawsuit that challenged a ban on so-called ballot selfies. The ban on displaying completed ballots has been around since 1891.
Benson’s office and Joel Crookston, a voter in the Kalamazoo area, reached a deal in April. But no details were released until Wednesday, a day after local elections around Michigan. The agreement says voters can photograph their marked ballot. They still can’t take a photo of themselves in a polling place.