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As I See It

Should ballot selfies really be illegal?

Scott Robert Shaw

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These days it seems people are taking selfies everywhere. Sometimes with unfortunate consequences. We have heard stories of people falling from cliffs while trying to snap that perfect pic. One place you cannot currently take a selfie is in a Wisconsin voting booth. State law prohibits that. Wisconsin is one of 18 states that outlaw the showing of a completed ballot. But that could change. One state lawmaker is proposing changing the law to allow Wisconsin voters to legally take selfies with their completed ballot. The bill’s sponsor says the prohibition against showing a marked ballot is archaic in this age of social media, but that outlawing it is a violation of a person’s free speech rights. That is unclear, as court rulings on the issue have become mixed. Bans on showing ballots have been upheld by courts in some states, but found to be unconstitutional in others. Many local clerks support the existing bans on ballot-box selfies. They point out there could be unintended consequences to ballot sharing. They say when you put a picture of a completed ballot on social media, it can live there forever. And if your boss sees a picture of your completed ballot, they could use that against you by withholding a promotion. That could happen, but if it did would you really want to work there anyway? It seems the only potential harm caused by mugging with your ballot would be to that person himself. Shouldn’t the decision of whether to do that be up to individual voters, regardless of the harm it may cause them?

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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