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Government/Politics

Why It Is Illegal To Take Pictures Of Your Ballot

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Jo Ingles
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It is currently a felony to take a picture of your ballot in Ohio. Some lawmakers plan to sponsor a bill to allow voters to take those pictures if they want. But there’s a reason that law was put in place.

It’s been several years since the state’s “ballot sharing” ban was changed. Attorney General Spokesman Dan Tierney says that ban, which includes taking pictures of ballots, was not meant to stifle free speech of voters.

“It was intended to protect voters who may try to intimidate them to vote a certain way.”

Tierney explains Ohio’s law goes back to the days of Tammany Hall, the famous political machine in New York. Members of that organization coerced and bribed people to vote a certain way. Republican Rep. Mike Duffey says not being allowed to take a picture of the ballot might have worked at that time, but it doesn’t work now in the age of social media. Still, he says his bill won’t take all of the teeth out of the original law.

“It also prohibits people from intimidating people and those kinds of things. And we are going to leave those provisions intact. We are also going to leave intact all of the provisions about bribery and voter fraud.”

Duffey says people often break the current law by taking pictures of their ballots. In fact, he says his opponent did it. But he says having a law on the books that is not enforced or could be enforced unequally is not a good idea. He says lawmakers intend to take the bill up after this November’s election.