Political Animals

Heads Up, Instagrammers: It’s Actually Prohibited in New York (and Many Other States) to Share a Photo of Your Marked Ballot

It's a misdemeanor in New York to show your ballot after it's prepared for voting.
 Heads Up, Instagrammers: Its Actually Prohibited in New York (and Many Other States) to Share a Photo of Your Marked Ballot

Fierce. (Photo: Tumblr)

The Instagram army is out in full force today, smartphone drones snapping pics of every step of the democratic process, from the long polling lines to the braggadocious “I voted” stickers. But here’s a helpful PSA for anyone voting in New York state: those cutesy Instas could actually (technically) land you a misdemeanor.

According to Think Progress, sharing a ballot (or a photo of a ballot) after you’ve marked down your choice could actually be against New York State voter laws. NY Election Law 17-130 reads that a citation is in order for any person who “shows his ballot after it is prepared for voting, to any person so as to reveal the contents, or solicits a voter to show the same.” The Citizen Media Law Project confirms that “photos or filming of own marked ballot” is prohibited.

Many states have laws forbidding voters to take and share photos of their ballots, whether they’re marked or not, including Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Nevada and Texas. Gizmodo has a breakdown of the laws in each state. (Of course, word’s still out on whether or not anyone’s actually been given a misdemeanor for Facebooking their marked ballot this year.)

Many of these laws were put in place in the 19th century when vote buying was much more prevalent, NYU law professor Adam B. Cox told Betabeat. “It is true in many states that it’s a violation of election law,” he said. “Before we had secret ballots, there was a lot of vote buying, so it’s not surprising that a lot of states prohibit you from showing your ballot after you marked it up.”

As for New Yorkers, will your vote be invalidated if you’re caught applying the Nashville filter to your Obama-marked ballot? J.C. Polanco, commissioner for the New York City Board of Elections, said on Twitter that it’s not quite that serious. “Checked w General Counsel for u, no [your vote won’t be disqualified]. But don’t delay lines by taking pictures- sites are busy, glad you are engaged,” he tweeted.

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