Yes, Tucson, it's legal to post your ballot selfie on Facebook
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Yes, Tucson, it's legal to post your ballot selfie on Facebook

While many states still prohibit sharing photos of your ballot, it's been legal in Arizona to fill out your early ballot and post photos of it on social media for a few years, thanks to a change in the law.

Ballots in Tucson's municipal primary — an "all mail-in election" — just hit the mailboxes of voters in the city, and some have already filled them out and taken a quick snapshot to share.

A bill passed by the state Legislature in March 2015 cleared up the legal issue — previously, voters were barred from revealing the contents of their ballots to anyone, including posting pictures of filled-out mail-in ballots on Facebook.

The intent of that law was to keep voters from being pressured by outside groups to confirm that they had voted for a candidate.

But an update passed by the Legislature clarified that voters can indeed photograph their ballots and post them on Facebook. What's still barred is toting a camera into an in-person polling place, so the ability to show the world how you've voted effectively only applies to early ballots.

In about 15 other states, sharing a photo of your ballot is still a crime.

Some bans on "ballot selfies" have recently been struck down by federal courts. In September 2016, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a New Hampshire law that prohibited posting photos of filled-out ballots. A federal judge in Michigan blocked enforcement of such a law in that state. One law yet on the books in Tennessee was technically broken by pop star Justin Timberlake in 2016, when he posted a picture of his ballot on Instagram. Officials there said they wouldn't seek to penalize Timberlake because of "limited resources."

One of 2015 Arizona bill's sponsors, Steve Farley of Tucson — then a state senator and now a candidate whose name appears on the Democratic mayoral primary ballot here — said that year that, "It just seemed like a common-sense First Amendment issue."

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"If people want to express their opinion on who to vote for, they shouldn't be punished for it," he said. Farley joined a bipartisan group in backing the measure.

It's not evident that anyone was ever prosecuted in Arizona for posting a snapshot of their ballot, but many politicians and activists posted and then deleted photos when the old law was pointed out to them.

Before SB 1287, it was a class 2 misdemeanor to show "the voter's ballot or the machine on which the voter has voted to any person after it is prepared for voting in such a manner as to reveal the contents, except to an authorized person lawfully assisting the voter. "

The law now reads, "A person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor:" ... "4. Shows another voter's ballot or the machine on which another voter has voted to any person after it is prepared for voting in such a manner as to reveal the contents, except to an authorized person lawfully assisting the voter. A voter who makes available an image of the voter's own ballot by posting on the internet or in some other electronic medium is deemed to have consented to retransmittal of that image and that retransmittal does not constitute a violation of this section."

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