Proud voter that you are, it seems natural to document and share just like you do with every move by your dog and kid, right? Voter selfie.
Not so fast. Your right to self-promotion and self-expression should come second to the privacy of other voters.
“The real problem with selfies is that innocent bystanders trying to vote in peace and privacy could be in the pic, and that could be perceived as harassing or intimidating to some,” St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said.
That’s why voter selfies are a felony in Illinois, punishable by up to three years in prison. In reality, no one expects local prosecutors to waste time trolling Instagram or Snapchat for illegal ballot selfies. But just because you likely will not be prosecuted does not mean you should do it.
Allowing others to see your ballot choices in the voting booth is forbidden because it is a way of influencing them. We also don’t allow people to boost their candidates or causes within 100 feet of a polling place for the same reason.
Federal courts struck down selfie bans in New Hampshire and Indiana, saying the laws infringe on people’s free speech rights. You can use your smartphone to check facts and make sure you are voting as you intended, but taking a photo of your marked ballot crosses the line in Illinois.
Even if it were legal, one would hope a little class and self-restraint would stop you from taking that ballot selfie. Our highest calling as citizens should be accorded a little decorum rather than a goofy grin and a thumb’s up.