Ballot booth selfies will soon be legal in California – although not in time for the November elections.
Governor Jerry Brown today signed off on an exception to a law prohibiting voters to show marked ballots, which is meant to discourage vote-selling.
The law now says voters can show off their marked ballots voluntarily as long as they aren’t breaking any other law (such as selling their vote).
Free speech issues combined with the prevalence of the selfie and social media prompted the change.
“The First Amendment right to political speech must be protected and antiquated laws must be corrected,” said Assembly member Marc Levine, D-Marin County, in a statement on his website. “California law should encourage voter pride, political speech, and civic engagement through social media. Laws prohibiting this activity were written before sharing digital images over the internet was ubiquitous.”
Assembly Member Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach, disagreed, arguing that the state constitution says voting should be private, and a constitutional amendment is necessary to change the law, said Harper’s legislative director Madeleine Cooper.
“He thinks ballots should be sacred as they always have been,” Cooper said. “This opens it up for ballot fraud or ballot buying.”
The change in the law will take effect Jan. 1, 2017.