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Wisconsin Lawmakers Consider Legalizing Ballot Selfies

Wisconsin voters could legally take selfies with their marked election ballots under proposed legislation. (Charlene Mcbride/Flickr)
Wisconsin voters could legally take selfies with their marked election ballots under proposed legislation. (Charlene Mcbride/Flickr)
May 14, 2019

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Senate Elections Committee is considering a bill that would reverse a current state law that bans voters from taking "selfies" with their completed ballots.

Supporters of Senate Bill 48 see the ban as outdated, citing an increasing number of voters across the country who proudly post photos of themselves and their marked ballots on social media. However, Andrea Kaminski, legislative coordinator with the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, said her organization would like to see a few changes made to the bill before extending its full support.

"Not only would it allow people to show a picture of themselves holding their filled ballot, but it would also allow them to put on an identifying mark on the ballot,” Kaminski said.

Kaminski is concerned that allowing voters to take pictures of ballots with identifying marks on them could lead to corruption. She said it could lend itself to unethical election officials marking ballots in an attempt to change election results.

Several Clerks of Court oppose the bill, raising concerns over the possibility of employers, unions or others forcing people to prove they voted a certain way, if marking a ballot becomes common. Kaminski said the League of Women Voters would eventually support the legislation if an amendment offered by Sen. Dave Craig, a Republican from Big Bend and sponsor of the bill, is successfully added.

"[The amendment] just basically says people can take that selfie, and they can post it on social media, but they can't put a mark on the ballot that identifies it as their ballot,” she said.

There has been an increase in legal challenges involving ballot selfies since the 2016 election, and the verdicts have been mixed, depending on the state where each case occurred. Though rarely enforced, Wisconsin is one of 18 states with a law barring a person from showing a completed ballot.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - WI