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Taking a ballot selfie is not always legal

Posted at 6:41 PM, Nov 05, 2019

While many Americans do it, taking a selfie with a completed ballot is considered a crime in most states.

According to CNN, there are laws prohibiting taking or distributing photos of your ballot while at the polls in 27 states. For voters in 23 states and DC, photos from the voting booth are generally permissible.

A person could be charged with a felony in Illinois for taking photos at the ballot booth.

Wisconsin considered dropping its law earlier in 2019, but the legislation died in the state's Senate .

While some of the 23 states have previously had laws prohibiting photography of ballots, there have been recent court rulings questioning the constitutionality of such laws.

One example came during 2016 in New Hampshire.

The state argued that the law was necessary to prevent ballot photography to be used as a means of voter fraud or intimidation. The plaintiffs argued that prohibiting ballot photography denied voters their free speech rights.

A federal appeals court ruled 3-0 that the state had not shown that it was using the least restrictive means to achieve a compelling state interest of prohibiting voting fraud. According to the ruling, New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner was unable to show examples of how ballot photography led to voting fraud.

"The restriction affects voters who are engaged in core political speech, an area highly protected by the First Amendment," the ruling states. "There is an increased use of social media and ballot selfies in particular in service of political speech by voters. A ban on ballot selfies would suppress a large swath of political speech."

Indiana also had a law passed in 2015 that would have made ballot selfies a felony struck down by a federal judge.

In Colorado, the state made it legal in 2017 to take ballot pictures.

But in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia, it is illegal to take photos at the polling place, according to CNN.

In Alaska, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont and Wisconsin pictures at the ballot box are okay, but cannot include a photo of a completed ballot.

To see a state-by-state breakdown of the laws regulating ballot selfies, click here .