ProPublica, one of my favorite independent outlets, recently published an article regarding voters posting pictures of their ballots on Instagram. In most states, it’s illegal to share your ballot results with another individual. In this case, using Instagram to post pictures of your vote violates this law tenfold, since most likely more than one person will be viewing your picture and, consequently, your vote.
According to the article, breaking the law carries a $1,000 penalty, and in some cases, even jail time. A little harsh for posting a sepia-toned picture of your vote? Maybe. But this law is really just one way of ensuring vote-buying and bribing stays out of the election process.
A lot of commenters on the article argued that it if it is completely legal to display your political leanings and chosen candidate through bumper stickers and signs, then why would it be illegal to publicly share your official vote? Well for one, your vote is one of the most — if not the most — sacred rights you have as an American. Why would you want to give anyone the opportunity to persuade you or even blackmail you into changing your mind?
Many voters may view this as a non-issue compared other, bigger voting scandals, but violating this law could perpetuate even worse incidents.
It is not a violation of the First Amendment to make it illegal to publicly display your ballot, rather the law is created to protect this very right. As commenter “DC” stated, “You can put up as many bumper stickers and yard signs as you want. As long as the ballot is secret, nobody can ever coerce you in that final, most important moment.”