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Oklahoma Legislature Clarifies Law On Ballot Selfies

Apr 18, 2018

Oklahomans may no longer need to worry they might be breaking the law by posting a selfie with their ballot on Instagram on Election Day.

 

The state Senate has passed House Bill 3053, allowing voters to photograph both in-person and absentee ballots and post them on social media, as long as they don’t break any other laws by doing so. The House of Representatives passed the bill in February. It now heads to Gov. Mary Fallin for her signature.

Current state law forbids voters from telling others how they voted or showing their ballots to others while inside a polling place. It’s supposed to prevent electioneering and voter intimidation, said Bryan Dean, a spokesman for the Oklahoma State Election Board.  

“There’s always concerns about — if you look at decades ago — people potentially selling votes, union bosses, or employers or someone else trying to intimidate someone by forcing them to show how they voted or something of that nature, potentially forcing their vote,” he said.

But it’s unclear whether those laws apply to social media posts. State election codes were written in the 1970s, too long ago to consider the implications of modern technology, Dean said. Now, the Election Board sees photos of ballots as just another way to promote voter participation.

“It’s the same reason we like to give away the ‘I Voted’ stickers,” Dean said. “It reminds everyone else out there that there’s an election going on and they might want to consider voting themselves. It’s a good motivator for people to get out and cast their ballots. And you obviously also don’t want to criminalize someone who’s just trying to just trying to engage in their civic duty and take pride in the fact that they’re voting.”

If Fallin signs House Bill 3053, it will take effect on November 1 — less than one week before the next general election.

 

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