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Secrecy of the Ballot and Ballot Selfies

National Center for State Legislatures: “The right to cast a secret ballot has been a mainstay of the U.S. system of governance for the last hundred years. Voting in secret, as opposed to a voice vote that was more common in the early part of U.S. history, guards against coercion and bribery. And yet, “ballot selfies,” where voters take a picture of their voted ballots and share them on internet sites, have caused the secrecy issue to resurface. According to a recent study, 44 states have constitutional provisions that guarantee secrecy in voting, and the remaining states have statutory provisions to do so. In addition to expressly calling for a secret ballot, over time many states have also seen reasons to prohibit or limit the use of cameras in polling places. These have been enacted both to protect the privacy of voters and also to limit disruptions in the polling place. In the last 10 years, the advent of social media and cell phones with cameras have proved a challenge for state laws on limiting photography in the polling place, in large part because the photos can lead to the disclosure of how an individual voter voted. And that brings up the question of coercion and bribery…The competing desires of voters to share ballot selfies, and election officials to maintain an orderly polling place free of opportunities for bribery or coercion, have brought this issue to the desks of state legislators in recent years… Examples of states permitting ballot selfies…” [h/t Pete Weiss]

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