Are ballot selfies allowed in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana?

Laws are mixed nationwide
Posted at 9:50 AM, Oct 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-24 12:02:24-04

Secrecy in the voting booth has become a thing of the past for those ready to share their views and daily lives on social media, but laws nationwide are mixed on whether voters are allowed to take pictures of themselves voting and their ballots.

How states in our area handle the question :

Ohio: Has a longstanding prohibition against voters letting their ballot be seen with the "apparent intention" of letting it be known how they are about to vote. The state elections chief has advised local election boards to consult their own attorneys about how to apply the law. Sherry Poland, director of the Hamilton County Board of Elections, said Monday her office was consulting with its legal counsel at the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office. Triffon P. Callos, Prosecutor Joe Deters' chief of staff, said the prosecutor wouldn't be monitoring social media for ballot selfies.

"If we receive a complaint that someone was insisting that a voter produce a picture of their ballot, then we would take this very seriously," Callos said. 

Kentucky: Secretary of state spokesman Bradford Queen says state law does not allow people to record the likeness of a voter, but the law does not say whether voters can record their own likeness. Therefore, the secretary of state's office routinely tells county clerks the law does not prohibit ballot selfies.

Indiana: A federal judge last year barred the state from enforcing a law prohibiting ballot selfies. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana had sued the state, contending that it violates voters' First Amendment rights.

Nationally, the Associated Press found taking a selfie while voting is considered a crime in most states. But a ruling handed down from a federal appeals court last month could pave the way toward legalizing election booth photography.

Social media company Snapchat took the state of New Hampshire to federal court over the issue. The state argued that the law was necessary to to prevent ballot photography to be used as a means of voting fraud or intimidation. The plaintiffs argued that prohibiting ballot photography denied voters their free speech rights.

On Sept. 28, 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."

The judges suggested a less restrictive law that would prohibit people from taking a photo of their completed ballot.

While that ruling only applies to New Hampshire, and the ruling could be appealed to the Supreme Court, the ruling could change a long-standing precedent of banning election booth photos.