MA Residents: Think Twice About Displaying Your Final Election Ballot
Without a doubt, one of our privileges as Americans is we have the ability to exercise our right to vote in general elections. As I cast my ballot, I am very private and discreet about which candidates would best serve in office and this is information that I prefer not to share as it's a subject that is kept to myself while fulfilling the obligations of my civic duty. I do miss the days when you went into a voting booth, pulled the lever, the curtain closed and I selected the designated switches for the candidate of your choice. This new way of filling ovals reminds me of the days when I took achievement tests in school (UGH!). Like I said, I'm a "living in the past guy" and proud of it!
In this "so-called" 21st century, the saturation of social media feeds have been flooded with countless images of people heading to their local polling places as they are posing with their final selection of candidates as they display their vote worldwide. In this case, discretion is always the better part of valor. This may sound as an innocent trend, but keep in mind displaying and sharing your ballot with others is illegal here in Massachusetts and this could lead you into some hot water in more ways than one!
In Massachusetts, you're allowed to snap a picture of and with a sealed envelope but it is illegal to show off your marked ballot because it might lead to vote challenges. According to Chapter 56-Section 25 of the Bay State's law books, it is unlawful to allow the “marking of his ballot to be seen by any person for any purpose not authorized by law.”. If found guilty, the penalty issued is you can receive up to six months in prison or a fine of up to $100. This also applies to those who complete mail-in ballots. All of these pictures are banned in Massachusetts. A reminder: your vote could also be invalidated! Translation: Immediate disqualification!
You are allowed to snap a picture of a sealed envelope but it is illegal to show off your marked ballot. In certain states, this practice is legal, but NOT in our back yard. Those who give the green light have been taking the popularity of social media into account and have changed their laws. Local governments In California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nebraska, Oregon and Utah have passed legislation to actually allow voters to snap and publish photos with their marked and completed ballots.
The National Conference of State Legislature has also put their two cents on this hot-button topic, but the question stands: Do you agree with this?
"The explosion of social media and 'selfie' culture has also challenged the traditional thinking that voters should not disclose how they voted. Many young people, who share everything on social media, find it logical that they should be able to share a photo of their voted ballot with friends and followers. 'Get-out-the-vote' organizations also find posting these 'ballot selfies' to be a motivating factor for younger people to participate in the voting process."
BOTTOM LINE: There should be some privacy in how you cast your ballot. Let's keep it that way. I conclude with another saying: "Loose lips sink ships"
(Some information obtained in this article courtesy of www.timeout.com/boston/news)
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